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
Screenwriter John Fusco got the idea for the film when doing research for Thunderheart (1992). He was told stories about Hidalgo by an elderly chief, while living on the Pine Ridge reservation. See more »
Frank's hair in the scene near the end where he is seeing the mirages. See more »
Reading one of the commentaries about this movie urged me to write one of my own. It does seem to me, today, that a movie needs to be ridiculously full of stunts and action sequences (and blood, violence etc) to be considered worth while by the rank and file who are watching. How sad is that? I guess I am in the minority, but I want more to a movie than special effects.
I had wanted to see this movie from the start, but was never able to get to the theater, so I got it the minute it came out on DVD. I know it was supposed to be a "True Story" but as is I would doubt it - too Hollywood. But hey, the long and short of it is . . . Viggo. Horses. I am so there. Who cares if it did not really happen this way?
Anyway, now that I have seen it, I can't say I was disappointed at all. I was raised in a scouting family that was very involved in "Indian Lore" and the chants brought back memories. I think Native American history is complex and interesting, and we can still learn from the mistakes made on both sides. And Native Lore is ingrained in the message this movie had to tell.
EVERY movie lately seems to be overcoming obstacles and winning even when you had no chance . . . you can't sit through a day of the Disney Channel without getting that drummed into you! But this was different.
Frank T Hopkins was what was then called a "half breed", but he passed as white, and not wanting to deal with his race, he hid it (except for speaking the language, which I assumed many white men who were close to the land could do). Although he tried to deny it, his bloodlines brought him back to it time and again. Although being in the race had nothing to do with being a "half breed" on the surface, it was all about it in the end. Hidalgo was an "Indian pony" - a breed that was facing extinction. The horse was constantly being put down by both the whites and the Arabs. While defending the horse constantly, Hopkins yet shunned his own heritage and culture, and only when he accepted it did he win the race. And yet he should have known it all along, since the horse, the symbol of that heritage, was his most prized friend.
I got my back up a little when I read that someone thought the movie was was "moralistic" until they finally got to the action. Gee, aren't movies supposed to be moralistic? Should we not learn from our entertainment, or is it just mindless slaughter and CGI? It was like, yeah yeah, forget the plot, let's see some action.
Action is fine, but I liked all the little coincidences, symbolisms and tie-ins to other characters. The tie-in to Jazia (the sheik's daughter) wearing a veil over her head was perfect. They were both less in the eyes of white men, but in reality they were fine for what they were. They just had to accept it. The symbol of the natives, a necklace given to him by a chief friend, became his symbol as well, when his servant mistakenly used it for their flag. In the end it was no mistake at all.
Yes, it was the typical Disney underdog wins, but there was something extra to it. At least to me, and I am not sorry to say I still watch movies for the message, not the phony thrills.
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