El Cid is an epic movie masterpiece a tribute to one of history's greatest legends. This dazzling spectacle with a cast of thousands fills the screen with action and romance - from knights in armour jousting on horseback to massive battles on sea and land where columns of warriors stretch across the horizon. At the centre of this powerful motion picture is Charlton Heston in the role he was born to play... the immortal El Cid. Heston is the Spanish warrior battling to drive the Moors from Spain with the vision to be just and the courage to be merciful whose love and... devotion to the radiant Chimene (Sophia Loren) knows no bounds... Anthony Mann's epic was nominated for three Oscar's but surprisingly returned home empty-handed. [show more]
Al Andalus Islamic Spain gets short changed in Anthony Mann's cinematically impressive, though historically inaccurate and often tedious epic; "El Cid" (Arabic for 'Sir' or 'Mister') The 1490s saw the Iberian Peninsula in a state of decline, so this is like making an entire movie about an obese Elvis Presley on drugs, whilst completely ignoring all the preceding years of greatness, 'Cid' also conveniently chooses to avoid the fact that Trinitarian (i.e. Christian) extermists slaughtered or forcibly converted Muslim, Unitarian Christian and Jewish Spaniards, looted their homes, gave rise to the Spanish Inquisition who went onto torture & kill thousands of "heretics" throughout the next century whilst sending their armada to lead an imperial, and particularly gruesome, conquest of Central America.
The historical Rodrigo 'El Cid' Diaz was, like all Spaniard-Christian kings (and latter-day Spaniard-Muslim sultans) of his time; a mercenary, who would serve the highest bidder and reign terror upon Christian, Muslim or Jew. The simple fact being that most of the latter-day Spanish leaders (Muslim & Christian alike) were fanatical ideologues so intent on deposing each other in mixed and interfaith warfare, that the often repeated apocryphal of "Reconquista", was forged from the convoluted machinations of protracted regicidal intrigues, and numerous civil wars.
Charlton Heston is cast in his element, though Chuck's loud overacting and exasperated delivery of Phillip Yorden's stilted dialogue makes this one of his worst epic performances, when compared with classics like 'Ben Hur', 'The Ten Commandments' or even 'The Agony And The Ecstasy'. Sophia Loren is good as Diaz's wife Jimena, though she got a much better role three years later in Mann's underrated 'The Fall Of The Roman Empire'. 'El Cid' is worth watching to see where Ridley Scott got tips on how to stage the liberation of Jerusalem in 'Kingdom Of Heaven' and makes for decent enough entertainment, though its limited grasp of history and slow pace make it one of the weaker 1960s epics. Legend has it, that his widow strapped the real Rodrigo Diaz's corpse to a horse and sent it into battle to rally troops and surprise the enemy (a scene recreated here in an unintentionally hilarious manner). El of a way to go.
Being a big fan of historical films, I would put El Cid up there alongside Ben Hur and Cleopatra. Charlton Heston is a truly great actor. He plays the leading role with dignity and depth. You can feel his pains throughout the film and the finale is outstanding. Sophia Loren similar to Liz Taylor is Cleopatra is spellbinding in her role. Truly great film.
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