By Amelia Johnson, assistant dramaturg World War I had drastic consequences. Many had lost family members and friends in battle. Those who fought in the battle and survived were affected emotionally if not physically. As a result of of fighting in the war 250,000 soldiers suffered a full or partial amputation. The generation who had just missed the age of being drafted felt extremely lucky. Seeing so many die from the war and Spanish influenza in such a small time period made everyone very aware that life is short. This impacted the younger generation. They felt the need to live life to the fullest for themselves and for those who no longer had the chance to. [caption id="attachment_5293" align="alignnone" width="300"]
An extravagant party thrown with the spirit of the Bright Young Things.[/caption] With this sentiment, the Bright Young Things or the Bright Young People became an active group in society. Wealthy young aristocrats and socialites, the Bright Young Things rebelled against the values that they and their parents had been brought up with so that they could enjoy living. Their parent’s values had done nothing to protect them from the terror that the war had brought, so what was the purpose in playing by the rules? Life was mean to be enjoyed. [caption id="attachment_5291" align="alignnone" width="243"]
A waiter experiences shock as a young woman publicly smokes a cigarette.[/caption] The Bright Young Things threw elaborate parties and participated in car races and treasure hunts. They also drank, smoke, and used drugs. Concerned only with what was fun, they gave no thought to what was proper. Their behavior caught the attention of journalists who were very interested in reporting their wild antics to the public. It is with the Bright Young Things that paparazzi originated, as reporters would follow individuals from this group of young people to get a good stories. Because of how much these individuals appeared in the press, many of the names of the Bright Young Things are still known to this day. [caption id="attachment_5289" align="alignnone" width="217"]
Nancy Mitford. One of the known Bright Young Things who later became a novelist.[/caption] As you watch Chariots of Fire, pay attention to behaviors that may be associated with the Bright Young Things. In comparison, Harold and Eric were a little different then the young people at this time. Both found their fun in running and focused their efforts on this. Eric also found joy through the religious work he did. These men seized the day in their own way.