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Thursday, August 24, 2006


This week's DVD rental is Hidalgo, a 2004 film starring Viggo Mortensen.

Here's a little of what Wikipedia has to say about it ...

Hidalgo is a 2004 film based on the life and tales of former horse rider Frank Hopkins and his endurance horse Hidalgo, a mustang. Held yearly for centuries, the Ocean of Fire--a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian desert--was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred, the purest and noblest lines, owned by the greatest royal families. In 1890, a wealthy sheik invited an American, Frank T. Hopkins, and his horse to enter the race for the first time ...

And here is most of Roger Ebert's review of Hidalgo, minus snips, below ...


... Hopkins is played by Viggo Mortensen, fresh from "Lord of the Rings," as a bronzed, lean loner who (if I guess right) enters the race as much for the sake of his horse as for the prize. He respects and loves Hidalgo, especially after the scornful Arab riders scoff at the notion that a mixed-breed mustang could challenge their desert stallions with their ancient lineages. Of course Hopkins is a half-breed, too, and so we're dealing with issues here.

The race is so grueling that many men and horses die, and some are murdered by their rivals. Hopkins functions in this world like a duck in a shooting gallery. When he is discovered in the tent of the beautiful princess Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson), he is brought before her father, a powerful sheik (Omar Sharif) and threatened with the loss of that possession he would least like to part with, even more than his horse. But then, in the kind of development that sophisticates will deplore but true children of the movies will treasure, his manhood is spared when the sheik discovers that Hopkins knew -- actually worked with, and spoke with, and could tell stories about! -- that greatest of all men, that paragon of the sheik's favorite pulp magazines, Buffalo Bill!

.... This is a movie that has: Concealed pits in the sand with sharpened stakes at the bottom; exotic sprawling villas made with corridors and staircases and balconies and rooftops where countless swordsmen can leap forward to their doom; sandstorms that can be outrun by a horse like Hidalgo; tents as large and elaborately furnished as a Malcolm Forbes birthday party; blazing closeups of the pitiless sun; poisoned oases; tantalizing mirages; parched lips; six-shooters, whips, daggers, and ... no, I don't think there were any asps. Some will complain that Hidalgo magically arrives on the scene whenever Hopkins whistles, but Hidalgo knows that if he could whistle, Hopkins would be right there for him, too.

..... Whether you like movies like this, only you can say. But if you do not have some secret place in your soul that still responds even a little to brave cowboys, beautiful princesses and noble horses, then you are way too grown up and need to cut back on cable news. And please ignore any tiresome scolds who complain that the movie is not really based on fact. Duh.


I don't have the eloquence of Ebert but here's how I felt about the movie... for what seems like a broad and light hearted adventure, Hidalgo still manages to incorporate some thoughtful themes - for instance, near the beginning, we learn that Hopkins is half Native American and then he and we see the chilling results of the massacre at Wounded Knee ... the next scene has an alcohol- anesthetized Hopkins re-enacting that massacre in a wild west show. The obvious reasons to see the film are, of course, beautiful scenery, beautiful horses - the less obvious reason ... might learn something :-)


Blogger Susan said...

I'll put this one on my list to watch with my granddaughter. I love paints, and Viggo is rather appealing, too. I've been trying to snag an inexpensive copy of "A History of Violence" on eBay. Great movie!

BTW, the only horse born on my farm, a Morgan named Exuberance, has become an endurance champion in Vermont. We're proud!

8:50 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Susan. I think you and your granddaughter will like the movie. The relationship between Viggo's character and his horse was touching - I read that Viggo bought that horse for himself after the movie was filmed. I really envy you for having horses - there's something about them :-)

3:11 PM  

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