'El Cid - 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition'
(Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Nerio Bernardi, Tullio Carminatti, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (1961) 2008 / Miriam Collection)
Overview: Digitally remastered and loaded with revealing special features, 'El Cid' stars Academy Award-winners Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren in two of their legendary performances. Anthony Mann masterfully directs this classic tale of the 11th-century hero (Heston) who fought to unite Spain. Known as history’s "compassionate warrior," the film follows El Cid’s remarkable journey from peace-broker accused of treason to the King’s fighting champion, and later from exiled hero to legendary martyr. Unequaled in scope, grandeur and adventure, El Cid is an essential part of any film lover’s collection.
DVD Verdict: This magnificent film has been restored and the distribution rights belong to The Weinstein Company under the label of the Miriam Collection. A proper, high resolution 2 disc anamorphic DVD is long overdue. It has been a very long wait indeed. Perhaps the subject matter has been an issue in our over sensitive and shrinking world.
The relevance of this extraordinary film is sure to stir up controversy, but it remains one of the truly great epics of world cinema. This film is even more important today than when it was made. How do belief systems -- especially about the nature of God (or Allah) -- benefit or harm our world? The conflict between Christian and Muslim is unflinching in its portrayal almost from the first frame, as is the idea that there can be peace and love between those who hate.
Too bad Heston and Loren were not able to do a full, shared commentary. The incredible flow of stunning images and the majestic score are a reminder of what movies can do when they tackle a legendary tale and do not hesitate to go all the way. Unforgettable. And a remarkably true adapataion of the essence of the memorable, if mythic, poem.
Director Anthony Mann assembled an impressive cast, gorgeous locations, and awesome battle scenes to tell the tale, but he and his colleagues did not forget the most important elements - a strong script and a touching, believable love story. Charlton Heston has never been more impressive than he is here, and Sophia Loren's Chimene is one of her finest roles.
The two stars are perfect together, with able support from an A-list international cast. Add to this the stunning cinematography and Miklos Rozsa's majestic musical score, and you have a grand-scale, sweeping saga of love, valor and chivalry. 'El Cid' is a feast for the eye and ear. This is one for the digital library. Highest recommendation. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.20:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Feature Commentary with Bill Bronston (Son of Producer Samuel Bronston) and Neal M. Rosendorf (Historian & Biographer of Samuel Bronston)
Vintage Radio Interviews with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren
Hollywood Conquers Spain: The Making of El Cid
Samuel Bronston: The Epic Journey of a Dreamer
Behind the Camera: Anthony Mann and El Cid
Miklos Rozsa: Maestro of the Movies
Preserving our Legacy: Gerry Byrne on Film Preservation and Restoration
An Introduction from Martin Scorsese
Reproduction of Original 1961 Souvenir Program
Reproduction of Original 1961 El Cid Comic Book
Six Color Production Stills