El Cid Reviews
That is not to say that films such as Ben-Hur and Spartacus do not compare, because that just is not true but there is as something timeless about the approach of this film. The quality and the obvious approach of story over gloss helps this break the bonds of its contemporaries.
The performances are spot on, well for the most part, and the cinematography and what may well be Miklos Rosza's finest score, are first rate and along with the sound design and writing, propel this into the realm of classics, though it would seem, somewhat, a lost one.
This is a perfect example of marketing in Hollywood. This was produced by Samuel Bronson, who worked with MGM on more than one occasion, most notably, within this subject matter anyway, The King Of Kings and he also produced his own epics.
This, was one of them, the other most notable was The Fall Of The Roman Empire. As a result the distribution has never been as polished as MGM's catalogue, such a Ben-Hur and therefore this has not been pushed towards a wide audience for along while. The Miriam Collection, now available on DVD, have finally released this film as was intended, fully restored and with a pristine picture and sound to die for.
I HIGHLY recommend this film and the DVD as this is in real danger of become a lost epic, whist it should be heralded as one of Hollywood's greatest...
Every single aspect of EL CID is as meticulously planned and executed as I think I have ever seen in a film. Nothing has been left to chance in EL CID, there is a cast of thousands here... and each and every one of them has been told exactly where and how to stand at all times... and in every scene.
The sets are breath-taking... the tale, engrossing and complex... the performances are as brilliant as the 1960's could ever allow in a sword and sandal epic.
This is not a movie... this is a film.
Heston delivers in one of his most understated performances ever. He is completely effective and vital in his presence as the titular "El Cid". Sophia Loren is astounding as the very strong, female lead, Jimena, a character who refuses to sit in the background and wring her hands at the events that surround her (which was so typical to female roles of the genre in general... and to female characters of the era, specifically).
Loren is given a challenging and pivitol role in EL CID and her performance as the scorned, damaged Jimena is tremendous fun to watch. Loren deals in the conflicting dualities in which she finds herself quite effectively. Watching her transformation in the film is a pleasure.
Did I mention the sets?
Filmed against the rugged backdrops of Madrid, Toledo and Rome... EL CID manages to capture 11th century western Europe perfectly! This film does not suffer from cheesy-looking sets or any other form of anachronistic elements so often found in films of this kind. The castles look real, because they are. The battlegrounds look real, because fields and mountain ranges were used in lieu of staged backlots... even the grading of the film has been handled in such a way as to produce colours as close to reality as I've ever seen committed to film.
Great attention was paid to the versimillitude of EL CID. Tapestries, artworks and costumes look authentically worn... but are lushly coloured without looking at all garish or overly vibrant. The architecture of a lowly, straw-covered barn is every bit as important as the greatest of the great, royal banquet halls or luxurious cathedrals.... Each scene looks like a painting.
Look....... EL CID is a love story, wrapped up in a film about Kings and castles... Beautiful damsels, heroic knights... ascendency to royal thrones... regicides (and smaller betrayals)... gallant heroes and their battles across the backdrop of the 11th century crusades.
It's not going to be a story for everybody... but it truly is one of the most visually arresting and well-written films I have ever seen. It is worthy of every star I've given here.
I loved this Epic...
Known as history's "compassionate warrior" the film follows El Cid's remarkable journey from peace-broker accused of treason to the King's fighting champion,and later from exiled hero to legendary martyr. Unequaled in scope,grandeur and adventure this spectacular epic saga brings Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone, John Fraser, Genevieve Page, Gary Raymond and Herbert Lom with a compelling driven masterpiece of a film score from legendary composer Miklos Rozsa. See it in the full Super Panavision 70 format!