Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 17 January 2011

50 years on: El Cid still rules

I had not seen EL CID for a few years but there it was on afternoon television (thankfully with no ads) so, despite buying the recent handsome dvd edition, I sat down for another look and of course it was just as perfect as ever. It really is perhaps the most perfectly realised epic of them all, with that dense texture and realism and real crowd scenes that you just do not get these days from CGI so-called epics (ie TROY) - as Martin Scorsese highlights in his introduction to it on the new dvd.

The design and sets are also marvellous conjuring up the dark ages and Mann's love of Spain and those striking images and landscapes he conjures up, with that great score too. All the cast are just right: Vallone, Genevieve Page as the spiteful princess, the warring princes of Fraser and Raymond, and of course Heston and Loren at their most momumental, and of course Herbert Lom and Frank Thring. [When I met Heston in 1971 it felt like he towered over me, and seeing Loren up close too in '79 was astounding]. It would seem though that the Cid and Chimene had just one night together (resulting in her twin girls) as he goes off with his soldiers the next morning! Everything about this though is sheer perfection for me. The ending with "the purest knight of all" still gets to me, just as it did when we saw it as kids back in 1961! The last section with the seige of Valencia has to be cinema at its most stirring. Its certainly the equal of or better than BEN HUR (which does get bogged down in Victorian sentimentality, from the novel, after the chariot race).

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