In March 2009 I visited the town of Belmonte in Castilla-la Mancha and visited the castle were some of the scenes for the film El Cid were shot. On the way back down after visiting the castle I crossed the exact spot where Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren filmed the closing scenes of El Cid.
El Cid is the national hero of Spain, a bit like our Queen Elizabeth I or Winston Churchill. He was a warrior, a nobleman, a knight, and a champion. He became a legend within only a few years of his death and most Spaniards know about him because at school they read an epic poem called El Cantar de Mío Cid. It is the first great poem in the Spanish language and was written about 1140, only fifty years or so after he died.
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The love story between the Cid and Doña Jimena derives from Guillen de Castro’s play, imitated by Corneille in his famous classic “Le Cid.” The story of the death of King Sancho is based in the lost epic of the Cerco de Zamora (The siege of Zamora’), Many other episodes come from Old Ballads, such as the oath the Cid takes from Alfonso, after the murder of his brother (La jura de Santa Gadea). Menéndez Pidal knew very well the tradition around the Cid. One thing is the historic man, Rodrigo Díaz, and another the Cid of literature and legend. The film is based in very old literary traditions, woven together. It is not historically accurate, but it is very faithful to the literary traditions around the heroe.
Thanks for this, it is an interesting new angle for me to consider.