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Hidalgo

2004

PG-13

A man enters a long-distance race across the Arabian Desert.

Starring:
Viggo Mortensen, Zuleikha Robinson
Runtime:
2 hours, 16 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Based on the life story of Frank T. Hopkins and his horse Hidalgo, "Hidalgo", from director Joe Johnston, is a compelling, beautiful, and exciting film (even though it stretches its running time to 130 minutes) that interests every moviegoer with suspense, romance, and tales of comraderie.
The year is 1890, and half-American, half-Souix Indian Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen), is invited by an Arabic sheik to compete in "The Ocean of Fire", the most prestigious and dangerous long-distance race ever known to man. Usually reserved for the purest bred stallions and the wealthiest and best riders in the world, the 3,000 mile race across the Arabian Desert leaves half of its competetors dead from natural disaster, insanity, or the treachery of fellow riders. After witnessing a tragedy at Wounded Knee Creek, and falling out of his once-claimed title of the best rider in the West, Frank and Hidalgo jump at the opportunity, where they encounter danger in all forms, and must rely on their friendship and strength to pull off the impossible.
Seeing as "Hidalgo" is Viggo Mortensen's first film in which he has been the only-billed star, he handles the pressure well as the quiet and conflicted Frank T. Hopkins. He plays the character with a brilliant subtlely, and gives him an air of understated intelligence and courage. With the right amount of emotion, Mortensen is the modern day Indiana Jones-like action hero; with sex appeal and gripping stunts. Although he lacks charisma in some instances, he is overall perfect and enjoyable in his role. The supporting cast is strong, with the highlights being Louise Lombard as Lady Anne Davenport and a small but memorable performance by Victor Talmadge as Rau Rasmussen.
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Unless the Academy opens a new category for "best performance by an animal actor", you won't be hearing of this movie next Oscar season, but that's no reason to miss this movie now. Hidalgo, the horse, and Viggo Mortensen, as Frank T. Hopkins, completely won my heart as well as a place in "Great Couples of the Silver Screen", or at least as great partners in a buddy movie. This wonderful painted mustang plays the serious buddy, making his human tend to business in spite of other inclinations. It is a charming footnote to the movie that Mortensen was so taken with the horse that he bought it after the movie was completed.

Frank T. Hopkins may or may not have lived all the adventures he was famous for recounting, but it is verifiably true that he was instrumental in saving the wild mustang from extermination in North America. For that he is a hero.

This movie version of the 3000 mile race Hidalgo and Hopkins were said to have run across the Arabian desert to keep their title as "greatest long distance race runner" is an old-fashioned popcorn-movie-as-entertainment movie. It should also help the theaters sell quite a bit of bottled water and soda. The film's weaknesses are mostly attributable to the script. The writing (credit is to John Fusco, not-quite-known for writing the screenplay for SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON--- an AHA!! moment here) could have been tighter, and left needless plot holes. Also annoying is a slight laxity in editing. However, the story itself is a dramatic one, and the movie is fun to watch. The cinematography does well by the story and the locale.

Omar Sharif, once again as a sheik, comfortable to the core in his role, is a delight. Viggo Mortensen is good to look at, obviously, but made me realize how difficult "laconic" is to play.
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Format: DVD
Hidalgo is based upon a true story, so it's no wonder it's thrilling, truth being stranger than fiction and all. Although it's highly doubtful that everything in the movie actually happened, Frank Hopkins was indeed a real life cowboy, master horseman and rider and he did participate in the great Bedouin horse race of the Middle East known as the "Ocean of Fire" in the 1890's.

This wonderfully stylized and lovingly crafted film clocks in at over two hours, yet never bores and your interest should never waver. The international cast is terrific, led by Viggo Mortensen in a low-key, subtle performance which brings depth and a real sense of nobility to the notion of a "cowboy'. We've seen loads of silver screen gun slingers, bandits and marshals from icons like the swaggering John Wayne to the laconic Clint Eastwood, but with Viggo's Frank Hopkins, we may now be witness to one of the most balanced and interesting portrayals of an authentic cowpoke. And it's all the more interesting because Frank Hopkins isn't all cowboy - half of him is Native American. This internal duality and cultural division brings character shadings and a unique sense of perspective to Hopkins.

Balancing the tensions of Native Americans with the US Government of the time, the film explores Frank Hopkin's journey between two worlds - that of a half Native American with loyal ties to his tribe and his jobs as a pony express rider and performer in Wild Bill Hickcock's show, all while having to live in the White Man's world.
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