Hollywood Hates History: El Cid (1961)
Eleventh-century Spain was a violent borderland of Christian-Muslim bloodshed, but on the eve of the First Crusade, the two religions cooperated as much as they warred in Iberia. And who else to capture the heart of medieval Spain than Charlton Heston himself? Based on the real-life Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, who lived from 1043 to 1099 and was protagonist of the 13th century epic The Poem of the Cid, this movie captures medieval Spain in full Hollywood Golden Age splendor. Rodrigo defeated the Almoravids in a decisive battle in the history of Spain’s Reconquista, but was known for battling with both Muslims and Christians. The move – despite its extremely slow pacing and suuuuuper long takes – does a good job of capturing this age. It also doesn’t hurt that few people could handle the mythopoetic language of the script like Charlton Heston (John Wayne definitely couldn’t – see our review of him as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror).
September 16, 2021
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