El Cid (1961) Valladolid


It’s often hard to work out who the baddies are in this film as some of the Moors fight on the Christian side to help a Christian king whose descendents will later churlishly have them expelled from Spain.
There is fortunately one Moor (Herbert Lom) who dresses in black, making things a whole lot simpler; although on the Christian side we have the bad sister Urraca (‘Magpie’ in Spanish), who can’t decide whose side she’s on and helps to have one brother murdered to help the other brother, who starts out as a baddie but later, through Charlton Heston’s (sorry, El Cid’s) example, becomes a good and wise king, Alfonso VI.
El Cid; Rodrigo Viar, as the name suggests, was from Biar in Burgos province, and it is to there that he returns with his Moorish prisoners to confront a homicidal mob of fellow townspeople and a king’s envoy, dressed in black so that we know he’s up to no good from the start, although he later redeems himself.
Biar is Torrelobatón, and Torrelobatón Castle in Valladolid province celebrated one of the greatest events in the history of this small village when 350 local people participated in the film as extras.
Apart from the 350 good people of Torrelobatón, a good number of mounted Spanish soldiers from the Farnesio Regiment took part in the film. The horses were shamefully paid in hay!
El Cid shows that he is not like other men, and would rather live in peace than string up his enemies. In this he is in a minority in the film, where the term ‘lynch-mob’ would have been appropriate if it had been invented.