El Cid, an historic epic film. Review by the American author Dewey Edward Chester. Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is everywhere!
In 750 AD, the African Moors conquered Iberia, but the Christians regained control of the northern half of the Peninsula, and two races and religions established a tenuous relationship.
El Cid, an Historic Epic Film.
In Spain, there was yet to be inflammatory rhetoric of crusade. But things were changing; and El Cid was born when the Crusades were just beginning, in 1043 AD.
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar is a warrior, a nobleman, a knight, and a champion. Named El Cid (the Lord), by African royalty, he is Spain’s greatest national hero.
Cid is a towering and talismanic figure, inadvertently torn from his lover’s side, into conflict and battle to save Spain from marauding Moors, swarming across the Mediterranean, from Africa. He is a man unerringly true to his word and merciful to his enemy.
Chimara, his lover (played in film by Sophia Loren) wishes him to live a humble life. But Cid’s destiny will push him to legend to martyr to myth—in sworn service of God and Spain. He becomes larger than life, itself!
In 1065 AD, the Christian Spaniards were ruled by local kingdoms, each vying for rule of the nation. When one king challenges El Cid’s monarch (the King of Castile), El Cid (played in film by Charlton Heston), volunteers to fight to the death to determine the fate of his city, Calahorra.
This fight is the most memorable action sequence ever filmed. It begins with Miklos Rozsa’s heraldic orchestra arrangement.
El Cid and the other knight take their places for battle with lance and broadswords, on a brilliantly decked tournament field, below the ramparts of a great grey-green castle that is stunning to behold.
The two king’s watch from either side as the ensuing duel becomes brutal, yet decisive.
The castle is actually Belmonte, one of the famous castles in modern Spain, but in the film, represents Calahorra, won for the king by El Cid.
More stunning scenes are enacted in a reproduction of Burgos Cathedral to simulate the medieval church.
Some beautiful outdoor panoramas of riding horseman and gathering tribes are got in the Guadarrama Mountains; and for the climactic scenes of siege and battle with the African Moors, the old walled city of Peniscola is used to represent the City of Valencia.
And what scenes they are, with great dark masses of men and scaling machines moving up the walls of the old city, against a sweeping background of beach and sea, and hordes of mounted soldiers and bowmen clashing in bloody slaughter on the beach.
In short, the spectacle is terrific, with the rhythmic and rousing musical score of Miklos Rozsa.
Shortly before Cid dies in this battle of 1099, he sees a vision of St. Peter, who tells him that he will gain victory over the Africans ‘only’ after his death.
Chimara has him clothed in a coat of mail and mounts him- dead-upon his horse, Babieca, and fastened into the saddle. At midnight he is carried out of the gate of Valencia, accompanied by an army of a thousand knights.
They march to where the African king and his army are camped and at daylight make a sudden attack. The Africans awake and it appears to them there are as many as seventy thousand knights, all dressed in robes of pure white, and at their head is El Cid, holding in his left hand a banner representing Reconquesta, and in the other, a fearsome sword, La Tizona.
So afraid are the Africans that they flee to the sea, and twenty-thousand of them are drowned as they try to reach their ships.
Mitlos Rozsa’s organ music swells as El Cid rides into the sunset, along a deserted beach…..and into immortality.
El Cid! El Cid! The Savior of Europe. (El Cantar de Mio Cid).