Hugh Hudson, British director of the 1981 hit film "Chariots of Fire", died Friday at the age of 86, his family said.

"Hugh Hudson, 86, beloved husband and father died at Charing Cross Hospital on February 10 2023 after a short illness," his family said in a statement.

Born in August 1936 in London, Hudson had a meteoric rise to success with "Chariots of Fire", which tells the story of two British athletes, including Harold Abrahams, a young Jewish man who was plagued by anti-Semitism in his quest for Olympic gold in 1924.

The film picked up four Oscars, including for best film. It is also remembered for the soundtrack by Greek composer Vangelis, who died last year.

"I am beyond devastated that my great friend Hugh Hudson, who I have known for more than 45 years, has died. 'Chariots Of Fire' was one of the greatest experiences of my professional life," said British actor Nigel Havers, one of the stars of the iconic film.

The British Film Institute said "Chariots of Fire" became "one of the decade's most controversial British films" due to its perception as a "radical indictment of establishment snobbery".

In a 2012 interview with the Guardian newspaper, Hudson said he thought film producer David Putnam had chosen him to direct the film "because he sensed I'd relate to the themes of class and racial prejudice.

"I'd been sent to Eton because my family had gone there for generations, but I hated all the prejudice," he said of his time at the English boarding school.

Beyond his greatest cinematic success, Hudson directed other films, including the 1984 "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" and had a career in advertising and documentary film-making.

He had a son from his first marriage and had been married since 2003 to British actress Maryam d'Abo, known for her role as the 1987 James Bond girl in "The Living Daylights" .