El Cid

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
El Cid Movie Poster Image
Handsome chivalry epic with enduring themes.
  • NR
  • 1961
  • 182 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Chivalrous warrior-knight Rodrigo practices mercy to enemies, chiefly the Moors (though some others he kills in single combat over honor), and also shows kindness to the helpless. He also remains faithful to an unworthy king on principle and gives up his personal happiness and his life for the greater good of his country. White actors in makeup generally portray Moors and north Africans.


Swordfights and jousting ending in fatalities. Men killed with knives and arrows. Brief depiction of a crucifixion. One man set on fire, another thrown off battlements.


Very slight suggestion of palace incest.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, talk of wine quality.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that violence here includes men killed by swords and arrows, a (briefly shown) crucifixion, and horses fallen in combat. A fiance plots murder against her husband-to-be, and there's a brief hint of royal incest. There's a conflict between Christianity and Islam (with a stalwart Christian-Catholic warrior as the hero), but a message that many Muslims are good guys, and Christians aren't necessarily honorable or correct.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2-year-old Written bygerbowski September 12, 2012

A sweeping epic and excellent film

A classic medieval story of a noble knight who sacrifices everything for honor and the future of his country. Although it is a bit long, "El Cid" is... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlejandro LB June 4, 2011

A Great Epic Classic, Not a Documentary

Another issue on this great epic film is about its historicity and interest it may raise on actual events that portrays. Good movies based on real facts or peop... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares June 4, 2009
One of the very best historical epics.

What's the story?

In war-torn 11th-century Spain, warrior-knight Rodrigo (Charlton Heston) runs afoul of the royal family again and again because of his inflexible morality. He captures Islamic Moorish princes raiding Christian towns and, instead of handing them over for execution, frees them, earning the Moors' friendship and respect. He suspects the new King Alfonso contrived the assassination of his brother over the throne, and is exiled as a result. He even kills the father of his bride (Sophia Loren) in a duel over honor, casting a shadow over their marriage. But Rodrigo's reputation as "El Cid," a wise leader, wins him an army of followers, and bring the Moors to his side, in defense of Spain against a new threat, crazed Arab conqueror Ben Yussef (Herbert Lom). Though Rodrigo is no fan of King Alfonso and is implored to crown himself king, the righteous El Cid chooses a more noble path.

Is it any good?

The battle scenes -- thousands of extras on loan from Francisco Franco's army, definitely not CGI -- are rousing, and the costumes and pageantry are sumptuous. But EL CID's pace does seem to drag (the film was originally shown with an intermission) and the castle skullduggery is a little complex for young viewers.

Still, in terms of a faith-based, upstanding hero placed in impossible situations, Rodrigo is as strong a role model as they come (unless you question when he kills people over "honor"). In contrast, the Islamic-fundamentalist Ben Yussef looks just like the Taliban -- historians did their homework well with the costumes and detail.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the conflicts faced by Rodrigo and the wisdom and spirituality behind his choices. Why does he have to support a king unworthy of him? What makes him decide when to take a life or when to show mercy? El Cid is a hero figure in Spain with some of the oldest literature and legends written about him. What hero characters does he resemble in old English and American lore? Also, what other modern-day epic movies can you compare this to? How is it different?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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