Epic movie of the legendary Spanish hero, Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar (Charlton Heston) ("El Cid" to his followers), who, without compromising his strict sense of honor, still succeeds in taking the initiative and driving the Moors from Spain.Written by
Stewart M. Clamen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EL CID takes its place among the great screen epics that never allow the eye-popping spectacle to dwarf the human characters--just as "Ben-Hur" was able to do. And who else to play the legendary and noble Spanish hero than CHARLTON HESTON. He's magnificent here, playing his central role with an almost Shakespearean grandeur, as do some of the other cast members, including HERBERT LOM, JOHN FRASER and GARY RAYMOND.
So is the epic sweep of the tale and the intimate love story that begins when he is on his way to wed SOPHIA LOREN and finds himself asked to assume the mantle of leadership against the Moors in 11th century Spain. He makes the journey from peace-broker accused of treason to the King's fighting champion and later from exiled hero to legendary martyr.
Aside from the brilliant cinematography, authentic looking locales and colorful costumes, Miklos Rozsa's score adds a great deal to the intensely dramatic intimate scenes as well as the epic battles, all the while suggesting some Spanish motifs amidst the heraldic fanfares and love theme.
CHARLTON HESTON makes an impressive figure of El Cid, especially good in the final moments as the wounded leader who knows what he must ask his wife to do so that his followers do not lose heart after his death. RAF VALLONE as Count Ordonez, GENEVIEVE PAGE as Princess Urraca, JOHN FRASER as Prince Alfonso and GARY RAYMOND as Prince Sancho are all remarkable effective in strong supporting roles. In lesser roles, HURD HATFIELD and FRANK THRING bring their own brand of authority to minor parts.
Anthony Mann and his assistant directors have done an outstanding job on all of the battle scenes and he never falters in telling the tale in strong dramatic terms. There's an intensity in the scenes between Loren and Heston after he has been forced to kill her father for humiliating his own father in front of the court. Whatever friction there was between Heston and Loren on the set, works for them here because her animosity toward him is a chilling thing to watch.
The DVD has been wonderfully mastered and all of the Miklos Rozsa score sounds better than ever with Overture, Intermission and Exit music reminding us all what a treasure he was as a film composer.
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