El Cid (film): Wikis


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El Cid

DVD Cover
Directed by Anthony Mann
Produced by Samuel Bronston
Written by Story:
Frederic M. Frank
Philip Yordan
Starring Charlton Heston
Sophia Loren
Raf Vallone
Geneviève Page
John Fraser
Gary Raymond
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Robert Krasker
Editing by Robert Lawrence
Distributed by Allied Artists (USA)
Rank Organisation (UK)
Dear Film (Italy) Miramax Films (DVD)
Release date(s) Italy:
October 24, 1961
United States:
December 14, 1961
Running time 184 min.
Country Italy
United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $10 million

El Cid (1961) is a historical epic film, a highly romanticized story of the life of the Castilian knight El Cid.

Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in association with The Rank Organisation and released by Allied Artists, the film was directed by Anthony Mann and produced by Samuel Bronston with Jaime Prades and Michal Waszynski as associate producers. The screenplay was by Philip Yordan, Ben Barzman and Fredric M. Frank from a story by Frank. The music score was by Miklós Rózsa, the cinematography by Robert Krasker and the editing by Robert Lawrence.


Plot synopsis

En route to his future bride Doña Jimena (Sophia Loren), El Cid (Charlton Heston) becomes involved in a battle against an invading Moorish army. Two of the Emirs are captured, but Rodrigo releases them on condition that they never again attack King Ferdinand (Ralph Truman). The Emirs proclaim him ‘The Cid’ and swear allegiance to him. For this act he is accused of treason against the King by Jimena's father, Count Gormaz (Andrew Cruickshank). Rodrigo’s proud father, Don Diego (Michael Hordern) challenges Gormaz, and when Gormaz refuses to take back the challenge or the accusation of treason, Rodrigo kills him in a duel. Jimena swears revenge upon her father’s murderer. Rodrigo then takes up the mantle of the King’s champion in single combat for control of the city of Calahorra, which he wins. Rodrigo is then sent upon a mission to collect tribute from Moorish vassals in Spain, but Jimena, in league with Count Ordóñez (Raf Vallone), has plotted to have Rodrigo killed. Rodrigo and his men are ambushed and are only saved by one of the Emirs to whom he had previously showed clemency. Returning home, his reward is the hand of Jimena in marriage. But the marriage is not consummated and she removes herself to a convent.

King Ferdinand dies, and his eldest son, Prince Sancho (Gary Raymond), becomes king. The younger son, Prince Alfonso (John Fraser) desires the throne. With his sister, Princess Uracca (Genevieve Page), Alfonso has Sancho assassinated. Rodrigo has Alfonso swear upon holy relics that he had no part in the death of his brother. He swears so, but has Rodrigo banished for his impudence. Jimena’s love for Rodrigo is rekindled and she is banished with him.

Rodrigo is later called into service of the king once again, to protect Spain from invading Moors. At Valencia, Rodrigo relieves the city of the evil ruler El Kadir (Frank Thring). The Valencians offer the crown to ‘The Cid’, but he refuses it and sends the crown to King Alfonso. Rodrigo then defeats an invading army of the warlord Ben Yussef (Herbert Lom), but is wounded in battle before the final victory. If the arrow is removed, there is a chance that he will live, but he will not be able to lead his army. Rodrigo obtains a promise from Jimena to not remove it, knowing that this will kill him. He intends to ride out, even if dead.

The morning after Rodrigo dies, his body is secured upon his horse and sent out at the head of his army to lead them to victory and finally drive the Moors from Spain. When the Moors see him with his eyes still open, they believe that Rodrigo's ghost has come back from the dead. Babieca, his horse, tramples on and kills Ben Youssef, who is too terrified to fight. The Moors are completely defeated.



Loren was paid $200,000 for ten weeks' work; producer Samuel Bronston also agreed to pay $200-a-week for her hairdresser.[1]

Ramón Menéndez Pidal, a Spanish authority on El Cid and Spain in the Middle Ages was the “historical adviser for the film and the "overall interpretation of the hero as presented by Charlton Heston."[2]


The film was mostly shot on location in Spain - including the castles of Belmonte (Cuenca) and Peñíscola (Castellón) - though a few studio scenes were shot in Rome purely to achieve the financial gains of co-production status.


The castle and beach of Peñíscola appear as Medieval Valencia.[3]

Upon the film's release, Bosley Crowther wrote "it is hard to remember a picture—not excluding Henry V, Ivanhoe, Helen of Troy and, naturally, Ben-Hur—in which scenery and regal rites and warfare have been so magnificently assembled and photographed as they are in this dazzler...The pure graphic structure of the pictures, the imposing arrangement of the scenes, the dynamic flow of the action against strong backgrounds, all photographed with the 70-mm. color camera and projected on the Super-Technirama screen, give a grandeur and eloquence to this production that are worth seeing for themselves."[3] Crowther also pointed out that while "the spectacle is terrific[,] the human drama is stiff and dull." Time magazine provided some details to help illustrate just how much of a spectacle it was: "Inevitably, the picture is colossal—it runs three hours and 15 minutes (including intermission), cost $6,200,000, employs an extra-wide widescreen, a special color process, 7,000 extras, 10,000 costumes, 35 ships, 50 outsize engines of medieval war, and four of the noblest old castles in Spain: Ampudia, Belmonte, Peñíscola and Torrelobaton."[4]

The film's leading lady had a major issue with Bronston's promotion of the film, an issue important enough to her that Loren sued Broston for breach of contract in New York Supreme Court. As Time described it:[1]

On a 600-sq.-ft. billboard facing south over Manhattan's Times Square, Sophia Loren's name appears in illuminated letters that could be read from an incoming liner, but—Mamma mia!—that name is below Charlton Heston's. In the language of the complaint: "If the defendants are permitted to place deponent's name below that of Charlton Heston, then it will appear that deponent's status is considered to be inferior to that of Charlton Heston ... It is impossible to determine or even to estimate the extent of the damages which the plaintiff will suffer."

The film is a favorite of Martin Scorsese, who called it "one of the greatest epic films ever made."[5] Scorsese was one of the major forces behind a 1993 restoration and re-release of El Cid.[6]

Awards and nominations

El Cid was nominated for three Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction (Veniero Colasanti, John Moore), Original Music Score for Miklós Rózsa and Best Song.[7]

It was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Director, Anthony Mann and Samuel Bronston won the 1962 Special Merit Award.

Robert Krasker won the 1961 Best Cinematography Award by the British Society of Cinematographers. Verna Fields won the 1962 "Golden Reel Award" of the Motion Picture Sound Editors.


Specific references:

  1. ^ a b "Egos: Watch My Line". Time. January 5, 1962. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,874399,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  2. ^ Richard A. Fletcher (1990). "Chapter 1". The Quest for El Cid. ISBN 0394574478.  Fletcher considers Pidal’s work on El Cid somewhat idealized and “eccentric.”
  3. ^ a b Bosley Crowther (December 15, 1961). "Spectacle of El Cid Opens: Epic About a Spanish Hero at the Warner". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B05E0D6143AE13ABC4D52DFB467838A679EDE. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  4. ^ "Cinema: A Round Table of One". Time. December 22, 1961. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,827169,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  5. ^ El Cid from reelviews.net
  6. ^ "Miramax to rerelease a restored '61 'El Cid'". April 16, 1993. http://www.variety.com/article/VR105980.html. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  7. ^ "NY Times: El Cid". NY Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/15437/El-Cid/awards. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 

General references:

  • Richard Burt, Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008) ISBN 0230601251

External links

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