MOVIE REVIEWS

El Cid (1961)

ADD TO MY FAVORITES
7/10 NR 03 hr 02 min

October 24, 1961

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By John Chard January 29, 2017

" And the Cid rode thru the gate and into legend "

El Cid is the story of legendary Rodrigo Diaz who lifted his country with valour and integrity to drive the Moorish invaders from Spain.

I think the best thing I can say about this film is that even though it's nearly three hours long, I never once look at the clock. It's a thoroughly engaging picture that boasts all the great hallmarks of a sweeping historical epic. The colour, the costumes, the scope, and the attention to detail from director Anthony Mann are first rate, and par for the course is the suitably rousing score from Miklos Rozsa. Big square jawed bronzed beefcake Charlton Heston takes the lead role as Diaz, and firmly cements himself as the go to guy for gargantuan epics. Support comes in the form of Sophia Loren, Genevieve Page, Raf Vallone, John Fraser (excellent), and Gary Raymond (also excellent).

The story is an excellent one because Diaz was such a fine character from the annals of Spanish history, uniting the sulking Christian kings of Spain whilst simultaneously lifting the people of the streets off their knees and getting them to believe in the cause. Yet it has to be said that El Cid is far from the perfect historical epic movie, even allowing for the usual Hhollywoodisation of facts, one can't quite get past the fact that El Cid comes across as a glamorised glory tale without any hindrances. Surely here in the 11th century, El Cid's path would have been fraught and sodden with a great deal more death and destruction? It takes away greatly from the film's end because the build up of Cid's heroism actually didn't contain a great deal of hard work. It was a stroll in the park so to speak.

Still, it's a wonderful film that ticks all the boxes for genre staples, and as churlish as I may be as regards the assumptive nature of El Cid's story being told here, I'm still the first to start cheering and thumping my chest as the credits role, and not even Sophia Loren's pout can distract me from the bravado warmth washing over me. 8/10

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