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El Cid (1961)

The fabled Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz (a.k.a. El Cid) overcomes a family vendetta and court intrigue to defend Christian Spain against the Moors.

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Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Princess Urraca (as Genevieve Page)
...
...
...
Arias
...
Fanez
...
Al Kadir
...
Don Diego
Andrew Cruickshank ...
Douglas Wilmer ...
...
Priest
Ralph Truman ...
Christopher Rhodes ...
Don Martín
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Storyline

Epic film of the legendary Spanish hero, Rodrigo Diaz ("El Cid" to his followers), who, without compromising his strict sense of honour, still succeeds in taking the initiative and driving the Moors from Spain. Written by Stewart M. Clamen <clamen@cs.cmu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The GREATEST ROMANCE and ADVENTURE in a THOUSAND YEARS! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

14 December 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Sid  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,250,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$26,620,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(some 35 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ben Barzman and Basilio Franchina worked uncredited on the screenplay. See more »

Goofs

The little girl at the well speaks with the voice of a woman many years her senior. See more »

Quotes

El Cid: [to the king, who refused Muslim aid] You risk having no Spain at all!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Angel: The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

The Falcon and the Dove
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Performed by Chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Grim, Ponderous, Moving, Magnificent

Grim, Ponderous, Moving, Magnificent

I'm a girl and have a girl's taste in movies. If I'm going to watch a movie with a lot of sword fights, oppressed peasants, and corrupt kings, I want it to be a swashbuckler, preferably one starring Errol Flynn. Swashbucklers bring a lot of humor to otherwise unbearable dramatic situations.

"El Cid" presents unbearable dramatic situations, and it is not a laugh riot. I saw the three-hour plus, uncut version and never felt tempted to laugh once. This is the Middle Ages without Monty Python, without the levity of an Errol Flynn - Olivia De Haviland romance or comic relief of a Little John.

Boy oh boy was this grim. And long. You could have almost filmed the entire film with three colors: white, black, and red. Lots of red.

But "El Cid" did to me what it wanted to do. I really believed in Rodrigo and Jimena as star-crossed, larger-than-life lovers. I really believed that the little girl who leads them from her well to her farm house lived a thousand years ago. I really believed that something like the mouth of hell itself was opening up as Ben Yusef invaded. I really believed in Rodrigo's relentless nobility and heroism. Neither Charlton Heston's strangely artificial looking hair nor the obvious non-Arab status of a couple of the "Moors" (Douglas Wilmer, who later played Sherlock Holmes, was one especially unconvincing Arab) interfered with my willing suspension of disbelief. I cried. Several times.

There's a lot to cry about. In almost every scene, someone is either crying, usually Sophia Loren, or gritting his teeth, often Charlton Heston, but others grit their teeth a lot, also. Actually Loren doesn't so much cry, but, rather, huge, luminous tears quiver, poised, on her lower eyelid. In her final scenes, the teardrop dancing on her right eyelid is so huge, black and luminous it begins to look like a second pupil.

If the sound of horse hoof-beats does something for you, you will love this movie. There are many horses. Many, many, many. And they are always thundering off to somewhere, more often than not, over cobblestones. Lots of horse hoof-beats on this soundtrack.

Some viewers found the plot hard to understand; they, perhaps, saw the cut version. Having seen the uncut version, I found the plot entirely comprehensible.

"El Cid" is like a ballad. There is one grim face-off after another, escalating in gravity, in which the hero proves that he is growing into his own heroism, through every choice he makes. Each choice is harder than the last one, until his final choice, which is truly impossible, but which he fulfills anyway. If you like medieval ballads, you may love this movie. It has the same grim beauty and power and inexorability, the same insistence on throwing whatever is divine in naked human character up against the impossible demands of earthly life.

For such a long movie, there is scant dialogue. With few words, people prove their true character through their actions, just as characters in ancient epics did.

One viewer complained that this movie bore no relation to the "real" El Cid legend. If that is true, the movie is all the more remarkable. The filmmakers managed to create, from scratch, a convincing and moving medieval narrative.


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