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Sean Patrick Flanery,
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. During the course of his career, Hopkins was a cowboy and dispatch rider for the U.S. cavalry--and had once been billed as the greatest rider the West had ever known. The Sheik puts his claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang, Hidalgo, against the world's greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders--some of whom are determined to prevent a foreigner from finishing the race. For Frank, 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 impossible. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
An excellent, epic tale. This is not a fast-paced film; rather, think of it as story unfolding before your eyes, so sit back and enjoy the ride. There's plenty of adventure along the way, and I shed a few tears as well. It is a moving narrative.
Viggo Mortensen plays the lead character, Frank T. Hopkins, with aplomb, humor, humility, and spunk. Hidalgo, his painted mustang, plays his part well, also! Hopkins is a cowboy/Pony Express rider with a heritage that he holds to himself and is revealed in time. Especially heart-wrenching is the Battle of Wounded Knee. More massacre than battle, it had a profound and personal impact on Hopkins' life.
In the legendary 3,000-mile Ocean of Fire race across the sands of the Arabian desert, Hopkins and his horse must face treachery and the cruel desert elements in an endurance race that pushes man and beast to their limits. If you like horses, adventure, and epic films, this is a movie for you.
Expect moments of triumph and humor that make you laugh and cheer, as well as moments of tragedy. It is a story beautifully told and carefully crafted, though not without mistakes.
A few scenes could have been edited to preserve the epic feel while maintaining the film's pace. At certain points it was natural for the film to slow down, but it should not have been allowed to slow down to the point of stalling. However, in defense of the filmmakers, they were successful in capturing the tedium, beauty and peril of crossing a desert in a 3,000-mile race, and it gave viewers a real feeling for what it might be like to make such a journey.
The relationship Frank T. Hopkins has with his horse in this movie is especially touching, and is perhaps the highlight of the film.
Supporting roles by the rest of the cast were outstanding. Omar Sharif was amazing as always. Even the smallest actors shone in their parts.
Mr. Mortensen's diverse talents, including his aptitude for learning languages (Lakota/Sioux in this case), his own horseback riding skills, and his versatility as an actor made him a perfect fit for this part. Mr. Mortensen's book, Miyelo, which sprang from this movie, is a fine choice for anyone who wants to see a sampling of Mr. Mortensen's outstanding photography.
Frank T. Hopkins remained a staunch advocate of the wild Mustang horse until his death. Keep in mind that the real Frank T. Hopkins was known for his weaving of tall tales; thus, the "legendary" Ocean of Fire race.
A highly recommended movie.
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