El Cid Reviews
Clearly not true to history - if El Cid and some of the other characters really acted in the way they did, and made the decisions they did, history would have been quite different. El Cid's adherence to certain (misplaced and misguided) honours and loyalties are laid on so thick, and stymie so many good ideas, that you start supporting his enemies.
Plot-holes and random pointless twists abound.
The acting is incredibly wooden, especially by Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. The supporting cast aren't much better though.
On the up side, the battle scenes are well done, cinematography is great and costumes look very authentic.
Upon the film's release, Bosley Crowther wrote "it is hard to remember a picture-not excluding Henry V, Ivanhoe, Helen of Troy and, naturally, Ben-Hur-in which scenery and regal rites and warfare have been so magnificently assembled and photographed as they are in this dazzler...The pure graphic structure of the pictures, the imposing arrangement of the scenes, the dynamic flow of the action against strong backgrounds, all photographed with the 70-mm. color camera and projected on the Super-Technirama screen, give a grandeur and eloquence to this production that are worth seeing for themselves." Crowther also pointed out that while "the spectacle is terrific, the human drama is stiff and dull." The film's leading lady had a major issue with Bronston's promotion of the film, an issue important enough to her that Loren sued Bronston for breach of contract in New York Supreme Court. The film is a favorite of Martin Scorsese, who called it "one of the greatest epic films ever made." Scorsese was one of the major forces behind a 1993 restoration and re-release of El Cid. Time magazine has provided some production details: "Inevitably, the picture is colossal-it runs three hours and 15 minutes (including intermission), cost $6,200,000, employs an extra-wide widescreen, a special color process, 7,000 extras, 10,000 costumes, 35 ships, 50 outsize engines of medieval war, and four of the noblest old castles in Spain: Ampudia, Belmonte, Peñíscola and Torrelobatón." Ampudia appears as the raided village at the beginning of the film, Torrelobatón as Cid's hometown Vivar, the Castle of Belmonte appears as Calahorra, and Peñíscola and Bamburgh Castle as Valencia. The film was shot mostly on location in Spain but a few studio scenes were shot in Rome, purely to achieve the financial gains of co-production status. "El Cid" has been on my to see list for quite some time as I am an avid fan of this sort of epic historic 3 hour movies we don´t really see anymore. It´s lavish, grand, boombastic and big with fantastic sceneries. But, I was still disappointed in the end. Charlton Heston´s El Cid is not portrayed in a way that really makes you root for him and his actions to be honest. I´m not sure why it doesn´t work, maybe due to the stiff theatrical acting and Heston´s inability to give proper life to El Cid. Apparently he himself was not all that happy with the movie either in the end. Sophia Loren is beautiful and so screen worthy, but maybe a bit too blend in this role. The story deals with a strong love story and a man of honour who puts his wife, his country, and his king first and never he himself. The legend of El Cid is intriguing, but movie wise it´s too theatrical and a bit dull despite the epic production in my point of view.
Anthony man tackles the story of Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz De Bivar better know as El Cid
El Cid is portrayed by Charlton Heston who gives a superb performance as he battles rival kings and the war like moors in order to win the favour of the woman in his life Chimene played by the beautiful Sophia Loren
The film is of course huge on a grand scale but as with all his epics Anthony Mann manages to apply plenty of detail a high quality acting to add to the spectacle on the screen.
Heston gives one of his very best performances as El CID he simply holds the screen in a role he seems made for.
Loren proves more than a match for him and gives as good as him when Rodrigo kills her father for a slight against his family
But of course the best part of the film is the huge battle scenes involving a cast of thousands and a suitably sinister Herbert Lom as leader of the invading armies proving that there was a lot more to his range than Inspector Clouseaus beleaguered boss.
The final siege on the castle in one of the greatest spectacles ever committed to the silver screen.
Its fantastic to see all those extras up on the screen it feels much more a live and vibrant than tons of CGI
a masterpiece of its type and we will never see the like again which is a great pity
But that is its draw.
In the very best sense of the word, El Cid is thoroughly camp. Apart from a David Lean, what else do you expect from this kind of film? I make no apologies for thinking it magnificent.
There is a reason it was such a massive hit when it was released - because it gave the audience of a pot-boiler what they want - a hero to adore, a strong-willed and gorgeous heroine, kings and queens and princes and princesses squabbling and stabbing and throttling each other, an epic bit of jousting, heaving breasts, melodrama, thrilling battles and one heck of a jaw-dropping finale. It's also Miklós Rózsa's finest score.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones I defy you to not have it in mind while watching.The utterly magnificent (and totally bonkers) finale of our gorgeous hero, dead and nailed to his horse (not surprisingly, Chuck struggled with this), riding off in to eternity, literally trampling the villain underhoof along the way, is something I don't doubt will end up in the show - if it hasn't already
And it is glorious! I disagree with Marty, but do feel that yeah, it is quite a film. Not the best epic ever, but sure, it's up there. The story is a heavily romanticized look at the life of 11th Century Spanish knight Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar/El Cid, who was instrumental in defending Spain from Moorish invaders, with his efforts helping lead to Spanish unification. The man has gone done in history as pretty much being the national hero of Spain, kind of like what Joan of Arc is for France, though in this case, the man isn't an official saint.
The film is typical of that era, in that the hero of the story is shown in generally the best light as much as possible. Like I said, this is a very romanticized film. He's a compassionate warrior and the film details how he gets caught up in various political and military machinations, going from accused traitor to king's champion, and later from exiled hero to lauded martyr. I know my dad likes this movie, as he's talked fondly of it before, and when he told me about it as a kid, the thing that stuck with me is the story/legend of the final battle he participated in. I don't want to spoil it, but let's just say that the story is really cool, if kind of bizarre, even if it may not be true.
It's a colorful film about a colorful man, and it has all the hallmarks of a classic sweeping epic. Yeah, it's long, and it could be tightened up in places, but that's a common problem of most, if not all epics. It might be hard to sit through at times, but hey, we get excellent cinematography, gorgeous sets, costumes, thrilling spectacle, and the satisfaction of seeing stuff done without CGI. I really wish they would still make movies like this, just because you get a real sense of accomplishment when you have to bust your butt and not just rely on computers to do the heavy lifting. Oh yeah, and the score by Miklos Rozsa is just fantastic, and maybe the best thing about this movie.
Heston adds another memorable character to his resume here, and he is of course, solid. We also get a sultry scheming Sophia Loren, and some strong support from Herbert Lom, Raf Vallone, and Genevieve Page among others.
All in all, a sweeping and entertaining spectacle on a grand scale. It does drag at times, but when the film is cooking, it's just a blast to watch, especially the tremendous finale.