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on January 16, 2008
Like Mann's other well-known feature, "Fall of the Roman Empire," El Cid has a lot going for it: breathtaking Spanish scenery and fabulously authentic set pieces, two very competent and attractive leads with Heston and Loren, and an interesting protagonist whose story is steeped more in myth than reality.

Although this DVD has not yet been released, this film, like "Fall of the Roman Empire," is worthy of a "special edition" replete with interviews, extras, a behind-the-scenes documentary, deleted scenes, and the like--should they even exist. The film was released almost 45 years ago.

While not as opulent as "Fall" that would be released three years later, the love story between Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Cid) and Chimene, his wife is a more interesting one--as interesting as the story of the Cid himself.

These are characters one feels emotionally attached to unlike those of Livius and Drusilla in Mann's 'Fall," which resembles yet an additional prop to the sets to Mann's $16 million dollar epic, but Mann got off relatively cheap with "El Cid," utilizing many of the existing medieval castles that dot the coastlines of sunny Spain.

Chimene loves Rodrigo who is to be her husband, than hates him for killing her father who insults Rodrigo's father and his family name. She marries Rodrigo out of spite at the request of King Ferdinand, and Chimene colludes to kill Rodrigo with a fellow conspirator who also loves her. Later, she ultimately learns to love this selfless knight who shows mercy to his enemies, earns their respect, and defends a brat of a king who is nothing more than a spoiled tyrant--wonderfully played by popular 60's British mod, John Fraser who would later win a coveted supporting role in Roman Polanski's "Repulsion."

The movie gets 5 stars despite the fact that battle scenes seem rather brief and could have been better orchestrated on a slightly more lavish scale. Mann's "Fall" clearly has an edge here; what we see in "El Cid" for the majority of the film are really skirmishes of no more than 15 to 20 men at a time. The Miklos Rosza score, obviously influenced by the achingly beautiful coda in Tchaikovsky's Symphony 4, and like all of his splendid soundtracks, will compel an exhaustive search for the compact disc at your local retailer. Clearly, this is music to be savored like a fine Castillian wine.

This was a role Heston was born to play: physical, larger than life, and majestic in scope. In a death-scene that is perhaps one of the longest, most touchingly portrayed, and perhaps Heston's finest in an epic like this, will move you as will the story of this heroic 11th Century knight who attempted to unite his divided Spain.
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on May 17, 2002
How delighted I am that one of my all time favorite movies has finally been released in DVD so it can be seen by those who were not even born when it was made. But there are a few things I need to say about it, for them and for others. First, it's NOT history, nor is it a filmed version of "El Poema del mio Cid" as I discovered, 40 years ago when, fresh from having seen it 3 times in rapid succession, I turned to that great epic poem. What it is, is a filmed version of another classic work of art "Le Cid", a play by the 17th century French playwright Pierre Corneille (easily recognized when one realizes that the heroine's name "Chimene" is the French version of the Cid's wife's name, "Jimena". Indeed, last spring I saw another version of the same work as a 19th century opera by Jules Massenet starring Placido Domingo as Rodrigo. In other words, it is a work of art based on other works of art, not on history. And all art takes license. However, with that caveat in mind, the film contains some really wonderful things, especially in the visual area. Although trained as a historian of Baroque art, I have a sub-specialty in and grand passion for medieval art. And what we see in El Cid has surprising elements of reality. What we see is what I believe late 11th or early 12th century Spain might have been like (with some intrusions from later medieval or even later). Spain at that time was one of the most artistically advanced countries in Europe, in both its Christian and Moorish areas. I'm not a specialist in medieval weapons so I can't really comment on the armor and swords ... But I can comment favorably on most of the mural decorations used throughout, on the scene in the chapel as clerics pray over the body of King Ferdinand and on the costumes and jewelry worn by Genevieve Page as Princess Urraca. There are many compelling scenes. Among them are the march of the African troops along the seacoast and the wonderful panoramas of Spanish landscape. I agree that there is a lack of chemistry between Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston in many of their scenes together, but, when apart, I think they give good performances (especially Ms. Loren, who was at the height of her astonishing beauty). And I still confess to having a lump in my throat during the final scenes, as the mounted "corpse" is led out to ride at the head of the army. This picture has been a favorite of mine since I was 13 and it will always remain so. It is great to be able to see the clear and beautiful movie I saw repeatedly in the spring and summer of 1962.
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on August 23, 2011
They say that epic movies can't really be made any more. I would say that it's because we lack the innocence, not the resources because what we have here in "El Cid" is a breath of fresh air to the jaded modern (at least, to the jaded modern who does not want to be jaded). Here is honor and courage and knightly subservience, all three being values from the past and none of which are given a showing today. We reject any kind of submission or servanthood and indeed, there are times one must admit that the Cid's obedience goes too far. Anyway, I suppose you want to hear about the movie.

I think the acting is great for the most part, though Sophia Loren can be a little too much for me at times. You need to be able to appreciate the style of the acting and the action. If you can do that, this movie has you. It's honestly easier for me to believe in a movie if it has cheesy acting versus having computer animations which the eye immediately spots. Also, I can't think of an epic that looked more, well...epic, thanks to shooting on location in Spain in real castles, etc. I also appreciate small details, like filled, lived-in sets and also small ceremonial details like kissing the crossguard of a sword before battle or removing your helmet after coming in through a gate on horseback as a sign of politeness. All these are done without explanation, and are better off for not having them. All this is also well layered by what may be Miklos Rozsa's best film score (I'm biased).

But to return to my original discussion, what's great about this movie is that it has integrity. Even the "baddies" have honor, one even agreeing with Heston's character at one point that one cannot live without honor. I know it's not typically seen as "interesting" to have an uncompromising protagonist, but El Cid is so sublime that I say,"bring on the uninterestingness!" I couldn't help compare this movie to the recent "Kingdom of Heaven", which deals with similar "Christian-Muslim interaction issues". "El Cid" is more consciously Christian than "Kingdom of Heaven", and though this may put some people off, they would have to agree that Heston does his job and then some compared to Orlando Bloom.
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on June 11, 2017
Great movie, lousy DVD. The aspect ratio is odd, and the picture quality if bad. The sound is even worse, and if you want English subtitles, they are misspelled or are just not accurate. Buy a different DVD.
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on September 10, 2017
This is a great movie. Excellent acting. Beautiful seanery the entire movie gets an A from me.
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on September 17, 2017
This video was a big disappointment. Admittedly, it was not BluRay, but a regular DVD should have had a much better picture quality than this. I got this one because the BluRay was so exorbitantly priced on Amazon. My first clue that this was not going to go well was the Chinese print on the cover. I never before saw that on any DVD I have purchased. Additionally, this DVD was not in 5.1 surround sound.
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on April 23, 2017
Great film! Epic about a Spanish hero.
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Caveat emptor!

This review is specific to the twin-VHS set of EL CID (Italy/USA-1961) manufactured by Best Film & Video Corp. It is a total dog!

Recorded in ELP mode (the worst for quality) and with only a linear audio track (no HiFi), there's just a smidgen of tape in each cassette. In the EP mode, two EL CIDs could've fit on a single tape, so this is also a space-waster.

Definitely thumbs down!

Worst news of all: there isn't a good VHS version available of EL CID. Despite the numerous Ammy listings, all are from fly-by-night outfits like BF&VC.
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on July 29, 2017
Great flick! Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, what else is there to say? My folks took us to see it at the drive-in when it first came out.
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on March 21, 2016
There is NO WAY to delete the subtitile choice in the menu. Subsequently the subtitiles are CONSTANTLY on screen and this is INCREDIBLY DISTRACTING! I had been looking for El Cid a while and this feature of the DVD disc is truly DISAPPOINTING!!
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