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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 September 2014
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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on 26 February 2008
Stupidly, Amazon have linked reviews from the older and rubbish pan & scan DVD releases to this new edition -- thus misleading customers into thinking that this MIRIAM TWO-DISC DELUXE EDITION is in some way as shoddy as earlier releases. It is not.

Here are the tech specs for this release:

Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Commentary with William Bronston (Samuel's Son) and biographer Neal Rosendorf
Vintage Radio promo interviews
Text Filmographies and Still Galleries
Disc 2 Featurettes:
Hollywood Conquers Spain: The Making of An Epic (23:56)
Samuel Bronston: The Epic Journey of a Dreamer (52:20)
Behind The Camera: Anthony Mann and El Cid (17:22)
Miklos Rozsa: Maestro of the Movies (30:11)
Preserving Our Legacy: Gerry Byrne on Film Preservation and Restoration (7:38)
Trailer Gallery
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on 27 April 2011
Amazon do a bad job on reviews with mulitple versions and do not always get the right review with the right disk, so I have made it clear in the title. Amazon have also got confused on some aspect ratios as there is much confusion amongst the public in what they mean. This Blu Ray disk is great. I bought it from but now the UK price is very competitive. The picture quality is fantastic (you can really spot the jet trails and the retakes in the sand), the aspect ratio is 2.35, the sound is good and it appears to be the full movie. I also have the US R1 3 disk DVD and a Japanese DVD. The color is far superior here and for a film from the 1960's it gives a very good result. I love this movie, I do not care what they say about Sophia Loren's relationship with Heston it is great. Only drawback for me is Region B and although I have a Region B player, most of my kit (portable and laptops) are locked into Region A. Never mind may be Weinstein will release this some time in Region A.
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on 31 May 2006
El Cid is one of my favourites from that epic period of American cinema, the 1960s, where every film made seemed to be over three hours long and featured all the stars you could possibly want to see that weren't in the sky. This one also has the distinction of being helmed by one of the great unsung directors, Anthony Mann, whose work with James Stewart in a remarkable and memorable series of westerns in the 1950s deserves to be reappraised. Mann seemed to specialise in films where the hero's mental and phsyical state was always in question (and usually brought to the fore). In El Cid, that inner conflict is dwarfed by the historical conflict, although he later went on to explore the male psyche more dramatically in his last truly great masterpiece, the equally spectacular The Fall of the Roman Empire a few years later.

For those not in the know, El Cid is the legendary Spanish hero who succeeds in driving the Moors from Spain. Charlton Heston (who else?) is the eponymous hero, portraying Cid as a man with a strict sense of honour even when everything and everyone is against him, and the lovely Sophia Loren plays Chimene, his on-off lover. A masked Herbert Lom, however, steals the show in a raving, shouting, wild-eyed performance as the leader of the Moors (he has one of the best and unintentionally funniest deaths in screen history, to boot). Aside from the gigantic battle set-pieces near the end of the film, which are exciting and powerfully shot by the great cinematographer Robert Krasker, the highlights of the film are two ferocious one-on-one fights, the first one a vicious swordfight between El Cid and Chimene's father over their relationship, and the other a trial by combat between El Cid and Don Martin over the the ownership of the city of Calahorra.

Filmed in the widescreen process Super Technirama 70, this brilliant film should have an aspect ratio of roughly 2.20:1. However, this DVD from Universal unwisely crops the image to 1.78:1 after the credit sequence, thereby rendering Mann's exquisite shot composition insignificant. Furthermore, the print used doesn't appear to be the same version so lovingly restored in the early 1990s, exhibiting much more print damage than even the UK TV showing did.

Once again a major distributor shows their contempt for us with this DVD release, so I would recommend getting the new Japanese or French DVDs of this fine film instead, because they're both in the correct anamorphic widescreen ratio.
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on 14 June 2011
Both the new EL CID Blu-ray from Anchor Bay and the previous Koch version from Germany use the Weintraub/Miriam Collection restoration master elements. They are close in quality, but this UK release has the slight advantage. The color timing is warmer, giving the reds a more appealing richness (the Koch reds have an orange hue). The dialogue offset appears to be higher in the UK version also, giving its DTS-HD soundtrack louder volume at the same reference level - the Koch volume needs to be set higher for equal fidelity. The quality of the print noticeably exceeds the dvd versions, and is a very satisfying experience as screen size increases, albeit with some inconsistencies. Some scenes display softness and color-alignment problems, but these are marginal infringements, and shouldn't detract from a fine experience for fans of the film. Sadly, the Bronston epics lack the perfection of many, better-protected 70mm roadshows finding their way to blu-ray of late, but this is no reason to deny oneself of their vast pleasures.
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on 5 July 2004
This wonderful film deserves a Criterion or BFI DVD complete with a restored print. It certainly is a timely film and I find its vision of mutual tolerance and charity between Christians and Muslims particularly welcome at the present moment (especially with all those frothering neocons yapping about a clash of civilizations). It will be interesting to see Ridley Scott's forthcoming Crusades film, which looks to be an avatar of El Cid.
But do not buy this DVD. It is full screen, not widescreen. There is a DVD available from, however, which does have widescreen. I saw the film when I was eight (for my birthday) in 1962 and saw it on television (wth a pan and scan edit) which butchered the 70 mm Technirama print. The fullscreen (tv) format gives one only less than two thirds of the actual frame. It's a wonder to see the French DVD version on my 23 inch flat computer screen. the only problems with htis DVD are that the print is not a great one--there are scratches every now nad then, and hte sound track is momentarily off for a few seconds. More troublesome is that the French subtitles were burned into the print, so they can't be removed when you watch the DVD in English (there is also a French dubbed version). And the various menu features don't work except for film and language tracks. Still, I'm glad I got it and recommend it until a DVD here becomes available.
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on 26 May 2011
I just finished watching El Cid on Blu-Ray. Here are my findings:

Region Code: Confirmed locked to "Region B". Being in "Region A" (USA), I had to install a region B player on my computer to watch this movie.

Video Quality: 9/10 Image was sharp most of the time with only a few scenes marred by mild color registration blurring.

Audio Quality: 5/10 Excellent conversion to DTS for stereo and surround effects. Unfortunately this was marred by poor audio equalization with excessive emphasis to midrange tones.

Still, the impressive video restoration makes this Blu-Ray a worthy addition to your movie collection.
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Rather unhelpfully, Amazon have bundled all the reviews for different editions of this title on different format together. This review attempts to describe the differences between some of them at the end.

The first of Anthony Mann and Samuel Bronston's ambitious and intelligent epics, El Cid has to boast the most gorgeous use of the widescreen ever - the Cid and Chimene's first meeting makes the most of every inch of the screen, while Robert Krasker's gliding camera is remarkably sympathetic to screen format, architecture and exteriors alike. Indeed, the whole film displays Mann's typically intelligent use of location, here in interiors (often his weak spot) as well - during their bleak wedding feast, he keeps Chimene and the Cid at a distance, the staircase where he killed her father (never a great start to any marriage) prominent between them; and while the good king's court is filled with colour, light and people, once the weak Alfonso assumes power it is a dark, empty hall. Despite some occasional over emphatic Christian imagery - when he's not standing in front of a cross, he's literally carrying one - this spectacular account of Spain's greatest hero uniting Christians and Moors alike against a common enemy, making friends of enemies and teaching his weak king the path to greatness by example manages to put a surprisingly human face on the myth of the perfect knight: the Cid's quest to do the honourable and right thing brings him little joy and much sorrow and even his resolve is nearly broken by his burden.

Charlton Heston when he was still an icon instead of an ass is one of the few actors who could carry off such a part, and he does it very well despite his curious conviction that Mann's superb direction was below par. The pomp and splendour never swamps the drama, and the setpiece duel for Calahora still stands out as one of the most remarkable and remarkably vicious screen swordfights of all time. A great score from Miklos Rozsa and good support from John Fraser and Douglas Wilmer too, although Andrew Cruickshank's portly King's champion implies that there was something seriously amiss in the kingdom long before the warring infantas succeeded to the throne.

Sadly (unlike the 2.35:1 German DVD which has an English soundtrack with removeable German subtitles), the astonishingly shoddy original UK DVD from Polygram/Universaal has been cropped from its original ratio to 1.85:1 and is a terrible transfer with no real extras, despite much material being available. To add insult to injury, the overture, intermission, entr'acte and playout music have all been cut from the film.

The Weinsteins' 2-disc NTSC DVD set is a slight improvement picture wise over the Criterion laserdisc but still doesn't look as good as a film shot in 65mm should - largely because they mastered it from a 35mm version. Still, it's a great film and the extras are good, though it's a shame they didn't include the full Anthony Mann interview from the laserdisc (though that can be found on Criterion's DVD of The Furies). Still, it does include the overture, intermission, entr'acte and playout music have all been cut from the European DVDs of the film.

Anchor Bay's UK DVD and Bluray are a marked improvement, boasting the plethora of extras from the US Weinstein/Miriam DVD (though the theatrical trailer has atrocious quality), but sadly the picture has been mastered from 35mm elements to save money with the result that, while the best version available it's still short of what a 70mm epic should look like.
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on 28 October 2009
After making do with the dreadful panned and scanned version of this quintessential epic film, (the only option on region 2) I finally tried the region 1 version which is wide screen and has a full disc of extras. Superb!
Charlton Heston, who knew a thing or two about epic films, said that with William Wyler directing this could have been the finest epic of all time. Nevertheless it's a pretty fine film. Beautiful to look at, it benefits from real battle scenes in which the protagonists are flesh and blood and look it.
I was lucky enough to visit Peniscola in Spain last year (it doubles for Valencia in the movie) and it is just gorgeous and of course reminded me of the film's unforgettable ending.
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on 5 July 2011
Perhaps Anthony Mann's greatest epic....they sure can't afford to make 'em like this any more ! Easily one of the top greatest films of all time and with the irrepressibly masculine Chuck Heston in the leading role of Rodriguez De Vivar ( El Cid )well supported by Herbert Lom , Raf Vallone , Ian Fraser ( of Dam Buster fame...whatever happened to him ? ) and of course the Lady Chimane played by the most beautiful Sophie Loren. Sadly Loren and Heston did not get on too well ( checkout the Barn Scene where Heston's aloofness to the charms of Loren is palbably distanced )...but the rich colours and scenic photography is fabulously captured in this technicolour masterpiece. I guess for a movie circa 50 years old this Blu Ray version is gonna be the best you'll ever get... a little colour dropout mid movie perhaps but no biggie problem at all. Clarity and precision of picture really is very acceptable ( not brilliant and not up to ZULU standard but still very acceptable ). Sound track much much better than I expected ( but still a little light on the rear speakers ).
Had to smile at the " charge across the beach " sequence where the tyre tracks of Mann's Camera Truck were plainly visible.....( thought they may have edited this out )....but what the heck....still a GREAT Movie !
I would recommend this Blu Ray to any epic lover...and it sits quite happily on my EPIC BLU RAY shelf alongside SPARTACUS and ZULU !
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