Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) -- and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) -- to take action.
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
This is a film that I could watch almost any time.
OK: so what makes a film a "10"? For me, every scene has to work. Would I take out any scenes? If so, then the flick isn't a 10. Also, does each scene move the story forward? If this is seamlessly done, then all the better. "Hidalgo" not only does this; but it does so easily, and unobtrusivesly, with the sense that the lead actor (Vigo Mortensen) is the vehicle for an ongoing, and interesting, story ... and what a story it is! Just as with the film Apollo 13, the fact that the story is based on real history and fact makes the story-telling more than a good tale. It tells us something worth remembering.
Did I mention that this is a rippingly good story? Did I mention that all of the actors are compellingly good ... including the horse (Hidalgo)? Did I mention that this movie transcends facile categorization (Western, Adventure, Drama, etc.?) This is just a damned good, under-appreciated movie.
The bonus material on the DVD is worthy of inclusion in a course on Western Civilization (a course that I've taught several times)? See this for yourself. I doubt that you'll be disappointed. In fact, I think that you'll recognize this as equal to such under-appreciated films such as "King of Hearts" and "Kasper Hauser" ... films that you'll be proud to own and to show to your friends.
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