El Cid Reviews
Awesome swashbuckling scenes eventhough its an older movie
It's the story of Roderigo Diaz de Bivar called "El Cid" (Heston). He is a knight in Medieval Spain, who fights the father of the woman he loves, loyally defends the honor of a king unworthy of him, and allies with Moorish princes of Andalussia to defend Valencia from a Berber invasion.
The music is great, as are the costumes and sets, but what really sets this film apart from other epics is the script.
It has several of the most powerfully dramatic scenes in the whole epic genre; they are so dramatic and noble that Victor Hugo could have envied them. (The first half of the film builds off of Corneille's masterpiece, "Le Cid", and not for nothing Hugo called Corneille one of the fathers of Romanticism...but I digress).
This film is Hugo-esque high Romanticism in the sense that the plot is built around the choices of the main characted when facing intense value-clashes or conflicts of interest. Most of the drama is generated by his stunning displays of courage and integrity. The coronation-oath scene still leaves me speechless.
This film is epic, and it knows it. The film takes itself very seriously; the characters take themselves very seriously; to be enjoyed I think it has to be accepted on those terms - i.e. if you are looking to be moved, then this epic will move you; if you not, not. For instance, I love the classical acting style in it (because the exaggeration and gravitas is fitting to the characters and events), but if you exclusively prefer post-Brando method/naturalist acting, then you'll probably find it melodramatic.
Sophia Loren is just stunningly beautiful and plays her part just right. Heston is at his best.