"Among our people we have a word for a warrior with the vision to be just and the courage to be merciful. We call such a man, El Cid."
This biographical adventure stars Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren so you know that there will be much eating of the scenery as everyone poses proudly and exclaims their awesomeness.
El Cid was the nickname for legendary Spanish Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Moors and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.
The film is not divided in it's loyalties at all. The Muslims are brutal conquerors who will destroy all that is good and true unless a Christian hero can be found to push back this horde. It's a good thing Chuck Heston is there at the right time in history.
He is a different kind of knight who rejects the idea of hanging Moor prisoners. He realizes that in the long run it is not the way to peace. El Cid is tired of fighting. He is a noble man who values honor above all.
This is the kind of movie biographies that Hollywood used to excel at. A cast of thousands fill the background of every battle scene. I like how many characters are given their opportunity to breath and contribute to a complicated tale.
The costumes are fantastic as are the magnificent Spanish settings. It's too bad you can always tell which scenes are filmed in the Spanish countryside and which are shot sets created for the movie. The music has real pageantry to it. No expense was spared to create this epic tale. This is how I like to think of medieval Spain. Glorious.
"Inevitably, the picture is colossal—it runs three hours and 15 minutes (including intermission), cost $6,200,000, employs an extra-wide wide screen, 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." - Wikimedia
Sofia Loren is radiant as El Cid's bride-to-be, Dona Jimena. It's understandable that one could forget how truly epic a beauty she was back in the day. I couldn't stop staring at her despite all the proclamations of love that the script has her speak. She has a tough role to play. She must love and hate Heston all at the same time. She really only needs her eyes to convey her feelings at any given time. The romance between Rodrigo and Jimena is heartbreaking to watch at times.
The jousting scene and full battle scenes are also fantastic. I appreciated how the choreography realistically portrayed what it was like to fight a man with sword or dagger. Not such an easy thing in reality.
I also enjoyed how this story places all these impossible challenges in front of Rodrigo and one by one we see why he is a hero to the Spanish people because of the decisions he makes. He is a man torn between love of a woman and love of his country who will always choose duty over personal ambition.
It's Hollywood myth making but GOOD Hollywood myth making. Even at more than three hours, it remains an interesting epic throughout. I was glad to have spent the time this evening to scratch another movie off my 'haven't seen' list.
Plus, now I know that if I ever have to fight as a knight on horseback that I want a morningstar in my hands. It's a brutally effective weapon.
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.