The Not-So-Epic Stuff A.K.A. The Complaints Department:
Introduction From Martin Scorsese:
It's a little booklet on the inside of the DVD box. Okay, yes, I'm nitpicking here, but any presentation heralding an introduction from Martin Scorsese had better include a filmed introduction on the DVD, not just a few liner notes on the inside cover of the DVD packaging. Everybody knows it's much more entertaining to watch Martin Scorsese talk about filmmaking than to simply read something he's written. 'Nuf said.
This DVD presentation is fantastic, especially if you enjoy biographies! The makers have done well to fully utilize space on both discs, instead of sacrificing some to fit all the features onto disc two.
PS: The movie's pretty swell, too!
The Technical Stuff
Format: Region 1 (US and Canada)
Disc One: El Cid Part 1 / Special Features
Disc Two: El Cid Part 2 / Special Features
Theatrical Anamorphic Widescreen Format
Audio: Dolby 5.1 - English
The Epic Stuff
The best feature is simply the fact that El Cid is now available for the first time on DVD in all of its widescreen glory! This is a film that absolutely begs to be seen on the largest screen you can find. It's an epic in every sense of the word, and were that not enough, also features Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, both in the prime of their careers.
Feature Commentary with Bill Bronston (son of producer Samuel Bronston) and Neil M. Rosendorf (historian and biographer of Samuel Bronston).
Learn all about the story of El Cid and about epic filmmaking in the times before CGI made everything far too easy (and far less realistic). Believe it or not, if you wanted an army of 2000 warriors in your movie back then, you actually had to hire 2000 extras... and their horses! Then, if you wanted an authentic Spanish castle for them to lay seige upon... you would film on location in Spain instead of just in front of a blue screen! Wow, how times have changed - making epic movies used to take something called "effort"!
Samuel Bronston: The Epic Journey of a Dreamer (Disc Two):
Combines anecdotal contemporary interviews with still images and film clips for a quite fascinating biography of movie producer Samuel Bronston. Running time: 52:20.
Limited Edition Materials:
These are cool for any film buff - included with the Limited Collector's Edition are six color production still lobby cards and original program reproductions, and a really neat reproduction of the original comic book for El Cid!
The Usual Features & Stuff:
Sound and Image Quality:
Image quality is wonderful, but the audio mix seems a bit off, with music volume often overpowering spoken dialogue. Solution: Play it really LOUD!
1961 Radio Interviews (Disc One):
Four short audio interviews with Charlton Heston, Lydia Heston, and Sophia Loren, each accompanied by stills from the film. (Interesting to hear from Mrs. Heston!)
Filmographies (Disc One):
Filmography lists for the filmmakers, as well as virtually every principal player in the film.
Still Galleries (Disc One):
Over 100 uncaptioned black & white and color stills from the making and promotion of the film. Great stuff, but captions would have been a nice touch.
Hollywood Conquers Spain: The Making of El Cid (Documentary- Disc Two):
Everything you could ever want to know about the making of El Cid, from writing to filming to funding to the bitter rivalry between its two big, big stars and much more! Running time: 23:56.
Behind the Camera: Anthony Mann and El Cid (Featurette - Disc Two):
A short but informative biography of El Cid director, Anthony Mann. Running time: 17:22
Miklos Rozsa: Maestro of the Movies (Documentary - Disc Two):
A biography of El Cid score composer Miklos Rozsa. Great insight into the creative mind of a musical master. Running time: 30:11
Preserving Our Legacy: Gerry Byrne on Film Preservation and Restoration (Featurette - Disc Two):
A nice, if brief, rundown of the very important, very complex business of film restoration - focusing specifically on El Cid and featuring expert Gerry Byrne. Running time: 7:38.
Includes trailers for the original 1961 release and 1993 re-release of El Cid, as well as trailers for the films Fall of the Roman Empire, Cinema Paradiso, and Control.
English captions are provided for the hearing impaired, and subtitles are available in Spanish.
A.J.'s DVD Rating: 4 Stars
January 14, 2008
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