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Subj: peplum review #40: El Cid (1961)
Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2021 at 08:57:30 pm EDT (Viewed 115 times)
This is one Ive long wanted to watch, but clocking in at 3 hours, its quite a commitment. But it was well worth the wait.
This is an outstanding film from beginning to end as everything really works. It is based upon an actual Castilian knight who fount in the Spanish reconquest and died in 1099. Its always risky to make a film about a country's national hero, but this done so well.
The film opens with Roderigo Diaz, a minor knight, on his way to his wedding to the beautiful Dona Ximea. He gets caught up in a battle against the moors (muslims), capturing several high ranking commanders. When Roderigo refuses to have the helpless prisoners killed, he earns the respectful title of El Cid, from his foes.
But the plot is much more complex, as we see the confusing landscape in which Christians fight against each other with Moorish allies.
The acting is solid with Charlton Heston playing the gallant Roderigo, and the actors who play the Castilian nobles and moors all do admirably. But it is Sophia Loren who has the most challenging role as Dona Ximea. She must convey the complex emotions of a woman whose fiancee has slain her father.
The exteriors were clearly shot in Spain for the architecture is unmistakable. The costumes are excellent all around and the battles, both individual and mass combats, are as well. In particular, the judicial combat is great (despite the annoying use of two-handed swords and knights fighting without helmets). And the music is fantastically evocative of the period.
Overall, one of the best the genre has to offer.
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