Cid [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Sumptuous in every way, visually magnificent, with grandiose sets, panoramic Spanish vistas and intricately detailed costumes, possessor of one of cinema's greatest music scores, boasting vast and astonishingly kinetic battles, and breathing heroic virtue in every scene, El Cid is the very epitome of epic. For this reworking of the medieval legend of the Cid (Arabic for "Lord") who united warring factions and saved 11th-century Spain from invasion, producer Samuel Bronston and director Anthony Mann insisted every set had to be created from scratch, every costume specially made for this movie alone; they also shot entirely on location in La Mancha and along the Mediterranean coast of Spain to enhance the film's authenticity. The cinematography is saturated with the burnished hues of the Spanish landscape, as are the palatial sets and rich costumes; Miklos Rozsa's resplendent score is also the result of painstaking research into medieval Spanish sources. The screenplay is imbued with knightly gravitas and more than a little salvation imagery, from the opening scene of the young Rodrigo rescuing a cross from a burning church, to the movie's indelible finale as The Cid rides "out of the gates of history into legend".
Charlton Heston is at his most indomitable as Rodrigo, "The Cid", a natural leader of men and the embodiment of every manly virtue (note that he fathers twins--a sure token of his virility); Sophie Loren is ravishing as Chimene, the woman whose love for Rodrigo conflicts with her filial instincts after he kills her father, the king's champion, over a point of honour. Their scenes together create a humane warmth at the heart of this vast movie: the moment when Chimene finally declares her love (beneath a shrine of three crosses--more symbolism) to the exiled Rodrigo forms a pivotal and very intimate centrepiece. Shortly thereafter he must rise from their rural marriage bed to lead his followers into battle, and the tension between his public and private lives adds a piquancy to the film's stunning battle sequences. The international supporting cast sometimes look like makeweights, especially when chewing on the occasionally stilted dialogue, but any such faults are easily forgiven as the scale and spectacle of El Cid carries the viewer away on a tide of chivalry.
On the DVD: This disc is a sadly missed opportunity to present a classic epic in its original form. Although formatted for 16:9 widescreen TVs, which initially gives hope that this might be an anamorphic widescreen presentation, only the opening and closing titles appear in the correct cinematic ratio. Otherwise this is essentially the same picture as the pan & scan VHS version with the same poor print quality. Since a restored 35mm print of El Cid has been shown at cinemas and on TV in recent years there seems to be no excuse for this cut-down presentation. Add some decidedly minimal extras and the result is a disappointing disc. --Mark Walker --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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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)
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
bought to see Peñíscola beach before the apartments were builtPublished 1 month ago by Allan Dowdeswell
I watched this epic as a young boy in Edinburgh. So looking forward to re-viewing it over the weekend. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ronnie
Bad copy of this film , it looked as if it had been recorded over something else as a BBC logo kept popping up .Published 3 months ago by tyrell
A very misleading DVD. English on the front with no indication that there are no subtitles in EnglishPublished 4 months ago by Diana Wilson