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Home arrow Movies arrow Hidalgo

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Hidalgo Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 31 March 2004
Hidalgo is a somewhat biographical movie about Frank T. Hopkins.  The focus is on a long-distance horse race in Saudi Arabia.  The movie stars Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings).  I found it interesting.  My wife found it to be a "guy's movie".

To be honest, I probably wouldn't have been interested in seeing the movie if it didn't have Viggo in it.  Not that I thought his performance in The Lord of the Rings was something spectacular, but I was coming off of the post LotR depression (no more movies...) and was interested in seeing something with the same actors just to see what else there was.

This attitude will probably carry over to anything with Viggo, Elijah Wood, Sean Austin, or Liv Tyler.  For some reason Elrond didn't impact me that much.  As for best acting in those movies, my vote goes to the people playing Eowin and Eomer.  They were great!  Ok, enough about that movie.  This is supposed to be about Hidalgo.

Frank T. Hopkins is a courier who carries dispatches for the U.S. Army in the 19th century.  During this time the U.S. Army is mostly concerned with rounding up Native American Indians.  Hopkins, being half Indian, finds himself frustrated and depressed when he realizes that his dispatches carry orders that only serve to destroy the Native American Indians.  The depression leads him to drink and he eventually finds himself touring as a part of the Wild Bill Hickock show.

In his past Hopkins was a champion long-distance horse racer.  The movie states that he never lost a race.  Bill Hickock capitalizes on this and creates a legend out of the "best long-distance racer in the world".  The boast rankles the pride of an Arabian shiek who challenges Hopkins to enter the 1000 mile race in Saudi Arabia.

To make a long story (very) short, Hopkins accepts the challenge and wins the race. The bulk of the movie involves the race.  See the movie to find out about it.

I liked the movie.  There were interesting issues raised in dealing with the Arabian culture.  The race provided a challenge that Hopkins could work through and at the same time battle the demons in his own life.  Success at the race meant that he could pull himself out of his past.

The sense of adventure in the movie was subdued.  This wasn't an in-your-face action movie.  It was better than that.  I appreciated the restraint that the film makers used to keep the movie in the realm of possibility rather than entertaining by presenting incredible hyperbole. 

The film was based on a somewhat-true life story of Hopkins.  But it's true in the same sence that many other 19th century American legends are true.  That is, grains of truth with lots of exageration built around them.  But this film managed to keep the legend believable. 

My rating: matinee


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 31 March 2004 )

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