What makes a classic a classic?

An ode to Chariots of Fire and thoughts about how we define a classic.

Joshua Poh
4 min readJun 12, 2019


Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

“(Nagasawa) was a far more voracious reader than I, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least thirty years. “That’s the only kind of book I can trust,” he said.

“It’s not that I don’t believe in contemporary literature,” he added, “but I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short.”

“What kind of authors do you like?” I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior. “Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens,” he answered without hesitation.

“Not exactly fashionable.”

“That’s why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that. Haven’t you noticed, Watanabe? You and I are the only real ones in the dorm. The other guys are crap.

- Haruki Murakami — Norwegian Wood

Who can forget Murakami’s seminal words and dare-i-say-it, snobby Nagasawa’s declaration against trends of the times?

Sounds like a brown-nosed individual scoffing against all the current trends of today. Transport Nagasawa to 2019 and he’ll probably be rolling his eyes out of his head at how many New York Times best-sellers there are out there.

These words came to mind again when I watched the 1981 British low-budget classic, Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire for the first time.

Ah, the very name Chariots of Fire conjures up the triumphant, sweeping Vangelis soundtrack and images of athletes striving to improve themselves against all odds.

It’s also aged surprisingly well.

I sat transfixed to the screen — wondering how these two amazing athletes were going to achieve their respective dreams. It somehow avoided the cheese of other 80s movies (cough Footloose I’m…



Joshua Poh

Freelance writer and content marketer for B2B SaaS companies. More at https://www.joshuapohwrites.com/