I enjoy epic historical tales in books and movies whether they are fictional or not. So this new Amazon Prime Video series certainly caught my attention. It has the added bonus of being a Spanish language TV series, which will allow me to maintain a decent level of Spanish while being entertained, and Jaime Lorente, a Money Heist and Elite alum for Netflix, is the lead and there’s also Alvaro Rico in this which concludes the number of actor I know in the show.
Premise: A tale of the man behind the legend of El Cid Campeador, Rodrigo “Ruy” Diaz de Vivar. From the young Ruy’s struggles before he became a faithful vassal, knight and hero of the Spanish crown in the 11th century.
Review: Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar‘s name is not one that I was familiar with, however El Cid I’ve heard of but not in the way that you might think. When I babysat my cousin’s kids that one time, I stumbled upon an animated show on Netflix that had that title. I didn’t make sense of it at the time, didn’t know that he was a real historical figure. So imagine my surprise when a friend told me that in Spain they learn about him through “El Cantar de Mio Cid” (The Song of My Cid / The Poem of The Cid) in middle school.
The show is a tight five episodes that felt a little longer. It might be me since I decided to watch it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, so there was quite a few rewinds. I used to be fluent in the language but these days I understand more than I speak it, so in an effort to practice I watched it in the language it was filmed in.
The story brings up a part of Spanish history in a time where the country was made up of Christian and Muslim kingdoms. The series is a mix of political intrigues, family infighting, love and bloody battlefields. It’s all centered around the court of Fernando I de Léon, where Ruy serves. The show could be categorize as a medieval [insert any TV drama with love triangles, skimming, betrayals, and power struggles], that would be fair but regressive.
I also could have said a dragon-less GoT but the show doesn’t quite rise to that level, in production value or style, which is not saying that it’s a cheap show. In fact, despite some unfortunate wigs and that one still where I thought Jaime Lorente was wearing modern day clothing (i.e. above pic); the set designs were nice and the battle scenes were impressive and well done. The story is engaging if maybe a bit cliché but I was entertain enough to want to see it again dubbed. Several characters stand out and themes of betrayal and greed feature heavily on the show.
I’ve heard of the criticisms of historical inaccuracies and anachronisms, but I in no way ever felt like I was watching a documentary. As far as I’m concerned the series told me that the legend is founded on a real person and that’s roughly what happened. Take Des for example, a series about real people and events, from the first frame it felt like they were trying to be as accurate as possible on that. In this show, I knew that I was in for a romanticize, fantasize version of El Cid’s story not a documentary. And yes the viking mention was weird to me, so was a few other things but I recognized it for what it was.
Chaos is brewing in the series and it’s intriguing, this first season was set-ups, machinations, and battlefields. The last episode felt more like a mid-season finale, the end of part 1, almost as if the next episodes are coming after the holidays.
If you want the classic tale, check out the links bellow:
2 thoughts on “TV Review: El Cid | Greed and Its Consequences in Medieval Time”
How can you say the story is a bit cliche when the main plot points are based on the original tale from almost 1,000 years ago? I would say that it is the other way around. This is original history and modern shows copied these kind stories over time. The modern shows are cliche, not the actual history. That comment is like saying that the Iliad is cliche.
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You make an excellent and logical point. I had to re-read it because I didn’t remember saying that about the show. It’s not what I meant there but I guess it’s cliché in the sense that it’s familiar to us nowadays.