Anthony Mann masterfully directs this classic tale of the 11th-century hero (Heston) who fought to unite Spain. Known as history?s "compassionate warrior," the film follows El Cid?s remarkable journey from peace-broker acc... more »used of treason to the King?s fighting champion, and later from exiled hero to legendary martyr.« less
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 11/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has been a very long wait indeed for a proper, high resolution 2 disc anamorphic DVD of this epic medieval tale of passion and chivalry. The final results are breathtaking. The transfer is stunning and the sound is rich and full. This is rousing entertainment on the grandest scale.
It's hard to understand why this film took so long to arrive on DVD. Perhaps, as some have suggested, the subject matter has been an issue in our over-sensitive, shrinking world of religious violence. Or our discomfort with nebulous concepts of love, forgiveness and peace. But most likely a matter of rights and licensing issues.
The relevance of this extraordinary film remains current and is a monumental artistic achievements of world cinema. On a personal level, this terrific film provoked me into thinking about how belief systems -- especially about the nature of God (or Allah) -- benefit or harm our world.
The essence of the conflict between warring Castilians and Moors and an invading Muslim threat is unflinching in the opening scene as the North African holy warrior Ben Yussuf quotes "the Prophet" as promising to conquer the world in the name of Allah.
But the real conflict is the idea that there can be peace -- and perhaps even love -- between those who hate. This is exemplified in the troubled and intimate story of Rodrigo (Charlton Heston) and Ximena (Sophia Loren). It begins simply enough with a knight on his way to meet his bride when destiny forces a detour.
El Cid, the legendary hero of Spain was a real person named Don Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. He lived around 1035 A.D. Although he spent much of his time fighting on the side of the Moors, he became identified as the best incarnation of the true Castilian Christian spirit. His name came from the Arabic "sayyid" meaning "lord" or "chief."
Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren are perfectly cast as larger than life figures of flesh and blood. Their reported confllcts on-set probably added a degree of on-screen realism. They are wonderful together. Too bad Heston and Loren were not able to do a full, shared commentary at the time of the transfer.
Anthony Mann's direction is robust and true to the theme. The movie has a fine sense of composition that the terrific on-location cinematography only enhances. Numerous action-filled vistas fill the screen, richly detailed and beautifully photographed. No CGI elements can rival the texture of a real place captured on celluloid.
The incredible flow of stunning images and the magnificent Miklos Rozsa score are a reminder of what movies can do when they tackle a worthy tale and go all the way.
EL CID is about a real hero who selflessly followed his moral compass. It's also a reasonably true adapataion of the essence of the numerous medieval tales, plays and poems -- unlike the mangling of both poem and hero "Beowulf" in the recent movie of the same name.
Amazing that this magnificent paradox of a tale -- after all, El Cid was a warrior and peacemaker -- continues to be told for a thousand years.
The extras on the second disc include interesting featurettes on producer Sam Bronston, director Anthony Mann and composer Miklos Rozsa as well as vintage radio interviews with Heston and Loren and a "making of" documentary.
The last scenes are a fitting epitaph for Charlton Heston the man and the actor. His passing is truly the end of an era.
This great movie deserves a place in any digital library. Don't miss it.
The 2 Disc Limited Collectors Edition is for a limited time only, comes in a box and contains a roadshow pressbook and vintage, miniature, lobby cards. The film itself and DVD extras are identical with the alternate consumer edition."
Film is better than its presentation
J. Bevan | Mansfield, TX USA | 11/09/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film during its first run in 1961. It was presented in 70mm on a huge screen with outstanding sound. Rosza's music was always part of the appeal. The photography was sometimes breathtaking. The color was rich and beautiful. Among Heston's epics it was neither Ben Hur nor the Ten Commandments, but there are hundreds of movies of less merit that have been given better treatment than this one.
The DVD I have was purchased through Amazon's resale program. It seems to be of Chinese origin as the subtitles are in that language. The print is really pretty awful. The colors seem to bleed and overall the image is not sharp. The sound is stereo with none of the impact of that 1961 memory.
This movie was "restored" in the early nineties. I remember seeing Ms. Loren talking about it on one of the morning programs. But this is not that print. It is a mere shadow of what might have been.
The movie deserves to be presented in a double DVD with full honors of trailers, "Making of...." and the best print they can come up with. Sure it's not Lawrence of Arabia -- what is? Lawrence is by consensus of a half dozen sources one of the three greatest movies of all time. But El Cid is not about an anti-hero like Lawrence but rather about a principled guy with courage and values. There IS an audience for that, too.
I don't know whether the American rights to this movie are tied up by some estate or some studio, or what. But it is time to give us the movie with the technical quality of the original. The movie itself may be a 3 1/2 out of 5. But the only excuse for this foreign ersatz is as a stopgap until the real thing FINALLY comes out."
Finally! EL CID on DVD!
James Maynard | Alamogordo, New Mexico United States | 03/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has been my favorite film since it was screened for us as students in High School so many years ago. It was the first video I ever purchased, also many years ago, and I have always regretted that the pan&scan format cropped so much of the magnificent 70mm image out. This is a film that MUST be seen in the widescreen format! Both Heston and Loren were recent Oscar winners when they were teamed for this and both are at the height of their personal appeal and stardom. The justly famous tournament scene rivals the chariot race from BEN HUR for sheer excitement, and the lush location photography in Spain makes every scene vivid. Although a bit long, the story is well paced and you will wish for more. The exquisite score by Miklos Rozsa will benefit from DVD's improved sound quality. I can't wait to purchase my own copy on DVD!"
Stunning Epic with Heston and Loren at their best!!
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 06/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Heston did so many 'costumers' it was easy to over look just how magnificent some were and this is one of the best. My favourite is the quieter War Lord, but El Cid never fails to move me. It works on many levels, the breathtaking epic, the love story between Heston and Loren, with the secondary characters, especially John Fraser and Herbert Lom, giving fine performances. The jousting sequences outstanding, the location work panoramic....a true experience."
At last, at last....
Robert Busko | North Carolina | 01/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, El Cid to be released in a digital format. I remember this film from 1961 when as a twelve year old I saw this movie while living on the navy base at Mare Island. It prompted me to visit the base library to see what I could find on the Cid. I remember being very disappointed when I found out he wasn't exactly what Hollywood portrayed in the movie. It didn't matter....the movie is a gem and I saw it again and again.
Anthony Mann hit a homerun when he put Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren together on the screen. The magic is obvious from the first scenes of them together. A gripping screenplay, great locations, terrific photography, and an excellent score by Miklos Rozsa make this movie a benchmark for film making of another era. This, as another reviewer mentions, is the last great movie of Heston's to be released. Shame, shame for it taking so long.
Are we too sensitive today for the contents of this film? Too politically correct? I hope not. The peaceful coexistence of Islam and Christianity, a topic touched on in the film, certainly is a topic of importance today. But that shouldn't be the main idea behind viewing this film. It should be viewed for the great picture it is. If its relevant, great. And what of Heston's stand on the Second Amendment? What difference does a political stand have on the greatness of this movie?