Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hidalgo: A horse worth riding

A really neat time Friday night, with Mom -- dinner and a movie. It's not often we get to spend quality time together, so we cherished a few hours in between my trip from WV and return to Chicago. We enjoyed a nice dinner of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, whole wheat bread, a special chicken dish she makes, and homemade veggie soup. Then we watched Hidalgo [it was either that or The Mummy, which I had already seen, lol].

I was a bit skeptical on the quality of the movie, since the critics had killed it. But -- do I need to say this? Sometimes the critics get it all wrong. And boy, were they wrong on Hidalgo. Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for good movies about horses and dogs, lol. But in my opinion, the movie is excellent.

There are several themes that run throughout the movie which make it very redemptive. The main storyline is about a man trying to find himself, an iron man with an iron horse, who rides 'far away from himself' in life [loosely based on the real life story of Frank T. Hopkins]. His Native name is Blue Boy, but others call him "Far Rider," which he is called not so much because he can ride far and win races, but because he is far from himself...struggling to come to grips with his Native-American ancestry, the past crimes against his Native people, and his inability to make a difference. He slowly dies inside, feeling powerless and trapped. He hides himself in caricature and alcohol...but then a challenge comes to race again -- this time for a lot of money, and this time in Arabia, across 3,000 miles of desert and hatred. The race is more likely to take his life than give him a prize, but either way he wants to be free.

It's a story of personal redemption, the story of a beautiful horse and a true man...who discovers himself in an ocean of burning sand. He is forced by destiny and accept his heritage and live the hero in his soul.

In my opinion, the story is well done. The critics called it cliched and sentimental, but I'll bet none of them have ever wrestled with the inner angst of a man like Far Rider. And I'll just say this: Viggo Mortensen pulls off this lonely, conflicted character about a million times better than Kevin Costner's attempts at the same...and the critics gave Costner a pass [in his weak attempt at Dances with Wolves].

Hidalgo is a great story of Native man and horse, with subplots of Providence: good vs. evil, fatalism vs. partnership with Creator, divine meaning in details...for good.

Mom and I enjoyed it, thoroughly. If that's not reason enough to watch it, why, send me a memo. :-)

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