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Hidalgo is a 2004 film based on the life and tales of former horse rider Frank Hopkins and his endurance horse Hidalgo, a mustang. The movie was written by John Fusco and directed by Joe Johnston. It stars Viggo Mortensen, Zuleikha Robinson and Omar Sharif.

The film was a box office failure, critical responses were mixed and Hidalgo was somewhat controversial due to debate over the accuracy of Hopkins's claims.

Plot summary

Held annually for centuries, the Ocean of Fire - a three thousand mile survival race across the Arabian desert - was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred of the purest and noblest lines and owned by the greatest royal families. In 1897, a wealthy sheikh, Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif), invited an American, Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen), and his mustang horse to enter the race for the first time. During the course of his career, Hopkins had been a cowboy and dispatch rider for the United States of America (U.S.) government. In this capacity he had carried a message to the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment, authorizing what became known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. While working as a stunt rider in Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows, Hopkins is advertised as the greatest rider the West had ever known. The Sheikh puts this claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang against the world's greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders, some of whom are determined to prevent a foreigner - and especially an "impure" horse - from finishing the race. For Hopkins, the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride and honor, but a race for his very survival as he and his horse attempt the supposedly near-impossible desert crossing.

Throughout the story, there are many who attempt to kill Hopkins and Hidalgo. Chief adversaries include the wealthy, spoiled aristocrat Lady Anne Davenport, who owns a rival horse and is used to getting her own way, and the Sheikh's treacherous nephew, who wishes, contrary to his uncle's decree, to marry his cousin, the sheikh's daughter Jazirah (Zuleikha Robinson). A spirited girl and a horse-rider in her own right, who had been somewhat indulged by her father because his sons are deceased, she is rescued from raids by Hopkins and Hidalgo, whom she grows to trust.Eventually, Hopkins wins the race and travels home to America, later to buy many mustangs who had been sentenced to death by the Government. These he releases into the wild, allowing Hidalgo to go with them.

A recurring theme in the film is the fact that Hopkins' father was White American and his mother a member of the Native American Lakota tribe. The tribespeople refer to him as "Blue Child" or "Far Rider". As a half-breed, he feels sympathy and pity for his mother's people, who are being driven to extinction by the settlers. However, he does not generally reveal his heritage, especially after the Wounded Knee massacre for which he feels partly responsible. Jazirah, who has become his friend, compares her desire not to wear a veil with Hopkins' heritage; that he mustn't "go through life hiding what God made you.... like me." In the end, he casts in his lot with the tribal ways, singing a Lakota prayer to revive the injured and fatigued Hidalgo, and rides bareback for the final length of the race.

Cast



Reception

The movie received mixed reviews from the critics, garnering a 46% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes (46% also from the Cream of the Crop of that site) and a 54 from Metacritic.

The events on which the movie were based are disputed by some as nothing more than tall tales. Others view them to be slightly exaggerated true stories. In either case, Roger Ebert offers a positive review of the film (three out of four stars), saying it's the kind of fun, rip-snorting adventure film Hollywoodmarker rarely makes anymore, adding, "please ignore any tiresome scolds who complain that the movie is not really based on fact. Duh."

Though the bulk of Hidalgo was not set in the American west (or even in North America), John Fusco won the Spur Award for Best Western Drama Script.

Native American reviewers disparaged the film because they saw it as furthering white stereotypes of Indian culture and behavior. Pointing out that Hopkins himself lied continually about his experiences and background (possibly modeling some of his stories after real-life accounts of Kit Carson), they claim that Hopkins was among many white men to claim Indian ancestry for personal gain. Saudimarker reviewers state that there never was a race like the Ocean of Fire, and there exists no documentation that Hopkins was even there.

Box office

  • USmarker Gross Domestic Takings: US$ 67,303,450
  • Other International Takings: $40,800,000
  • Gross Worldwide Takings: $108,103,450


Production issues

Multiple American Paint Horses were filmed as the horse "Hidalgo"; actor Viggo Mortensen later bought RH Tecontender, one of those horses in the film.

References

  1. Disney's Hidalgo: A New Hollywood Low
  2. Frank Hopkins - Legendary Endurance Rider of America
  3. :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: HIDALGO (xhtml)
  4. Blue Corn Comics - Hidalgo the Horse Hoax


External links




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