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El Cid

El Cid(1961)

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In 11th-century Spain, the Christian kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Aragon face the constant threat of the warring Moors and their determination to spread the Islamic culture throughout all of Europe. Into this arena of violence rides Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, whose courage, wisdom, and spiritual strength earn him the sobriquet El Cid, or "The Lord." Following one particular battle, El Cid liberates some Moorish emirs on their vow never again to attack Castile. His act of mercy is misinterpreted as treason by Count Gormaz, the father of his beloved Chimene, and to protect the family honor El Cid is forced to slay the Count in a duel. Although Chimene vows to have her revenge, she is obliged to marry El Cid upon the bidding of King Ferdinand, but they do not consummate the marriage, and Chimene enters a convent. A short time later Ferdinand dies, and his kingdom is divided amongst his three quarrelsome children, Alfonso, Sancho, and Urraca. Before long, the weak, ambitious Alfonso arranges the assassination of Sancho. When El Cid refuses to vow allegiance unless Alfonso swears himself innocent of his brother's death, he is banished from Castile. But through the long years that follow, El Cid continues to battle the Moors, and his ranks increase as loyal subjects join him by the score. Eventually his noble nature wins over even Chimene, and she again declares her love for him. When the Moorish leader, Ben Yussuf, begins planning a massive invasion of Valencia, Alfonso recalls El Cid from exile and places him in charge of the army. For days the battle rages and on the eve of the last great Moorish onslaught El Cid is mortally wounded by a stray arrow. Attended by Chimene, he makes her promise that, alive or dead, he will lead the next day's charge. Obedient to her husband's wishes, Chimene has El Cid's dead body mounted firmly on his white charger and placed before his troops. And when the Moors see the seemingly invincible El Cid riding once more into battle, terror and confusion overtake them, and they flee in disorganized panic toward their ships.