Hidalgo gallops to greatness

March 11, 2004, midnight | By Fidan Karimova | 16 years, 8 months ago

An epic adventure, a story about love and hate, friendship and betrayal—Hidalgo is that and much more. It is the true story of an American long-distance horse rider, Franklin J. Hopkins, who, after witnessing the massacre of the Indians during the battle of Wounded Knee Creek, turns to drinking and becomes a participant in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in order to forget about his Indian lineage and the unjust treatment of his people. An Arab visits the show to invite Hopkins, the greatest long-distance horse racer in the Wild West, to participate in the Ocean of Fire, a 3,000 mile race across the Arabian Dessert. Hopkins accepts the offer and embarks on the greatest horse race of his life with his loyal mustang, Hidalgo.

Fans who fell in love with Viggo Mortensen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy will happily return to see his good looks and will leave satisfied. Unlike King Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, Hopkins is a lost man who has to undergo a perilous journey to achieve personal serenity. Mortensen does a superb job playing a cowboy and has the perfect cowboy look – the sun-bleached hair, tight pants, spurred boots and a Western accent. He livens up the screen with his strong, calm presence and keeps you entertained throughout the movie.

The film's success also hinges on Omar Sharif, who portrays Sheik Riyadh. After five years off camera, the Egyptian actor, who has starred in hundreds of movies, including Dr. Zhivago, Funny Lady and Lawrence of Arabia, returns to take part in yet another great film. In beautiful Arabian robes, he looks like a true sheik. His tenor voice is captivating and his character entertaining. He is well-educated and even a bit Americanized, harboring a passion for Wild West stories and cowboys. When he sees the gun on Hopkins' hip, Riyadh simply cannot take his eyes off of it, and he asks Hopkins if he could bet $10,000 for it.

The movie has many other witty scenes. When Hopkins arrives in Arabia, a short, tanned Arab follows him around, telling him about the many perils that he will have to face during the race. Hopkins asks the old man to leave, but the man reveals that he has been assigned to look after Hopkins; he chose that over having his hand cut off for stealing. "Many tell me I have chosen poorly," he adds with a laughably sad face.

The special effects raise the movie from an average blockbuster to a hit. A scene where Hopkins rides at the foot of a sand storm is breathtaking. Audiences sit at the edge of their seats, hearts pounding, until Hopkins gets to safety, at which point they applaud his success.

Director Joe Johnson (Jurassic Park III) does the magnificent story justice. He uses all the right ingredients and arrives at a great creation.

One such ingredient is the music. The scenes in the desert of Arabia are accompanied by exotic Arabic music, making the whole scene come to life. In a way, it makes the audience a part of the experience. It is truly magnificent.

If you are a horse lover or just want to see a good movie, Hidalgo should be a film on your top ten list to see. You will not regret it.

Hidalgo is rated PG- 13 for adventure violence and some mild innuendo.

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Fidan Karimova. Fidan is a SENIOR!!! She is happy to be a part of the Silver Chips staff, considering that it's the best high school newspaper ever! She would also like to point out that she is one of two Azerbaijani students at Blair and proud to … More »

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