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Hidalgo tells the story of Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen), an American cowboy who was reduced to touring in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild Wild West travelling show. He is the owner of a paint Mustang, Hidalgo, with whom he has an extraordinary bond.
Hopkins is then invited to compete in a famous Arabian race, the Ocean of Fire, three thousand miles across some of the hottest, most forbidding desert in the world. While there he meets Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif), owner of Al-Hattal, the most perfect Arabian horse in the world at that time, who loves tales of the American West; the sheikh's daughter, Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson), who rides like the wind and is not at all the meek Bedouin woman she pretends to be, and who is promised to the Prince riding Al-Hattal; Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard), owner of a gray Arabian mare whom she wishes to breed with Al-Hattal; and Prince Bin Al Reeh (Said Taghmaoui), who wants Al-Hattal - and Jazira - for his own.
Hidalgo has chases, shootouts, rescues and triumphing over unbelievable odds. It is anything but a true story, but, to quote Roger Ebert, "... if you do not have some secret place in your soul that still responds even a little to brave cowboys, beautiful princesses and noble horses, then you are way too grown up and need to cut back on cable news. And please ignore any tiresome scolds who complain that the movie is not really based on fact. Duh."
Contains Examples Of:
- Anti-Hero: Frank is a type II.
- Bar Brawl
- Based on a Great Big Lie / Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Take your pick.
- Berserk Button: "Nobody hurts my horse." *yank*
- The Big Race
- Black Dude Dies First: Numerous mooks, Native-Indians, and extras actually die first, but the Nubian servant is the first significant (named) character to kick the bucket.
- Chekhov's Gun: Jazira telling Frank that grasshoppers are a gift from heaven.
- Cool Horse: Duh.
- Did Not Do the Research: One scene features a conflict with some British soldier over a well in the desert... decades before there was any British colony in the area.
- The Bedouin princess pines after the way in which Western women don't have to wear veils. Berber and Tuareg women of North Africa don't usually wear them either; in fact it is tradition for the men to wear veils.
- Also, the princess refers to Hopkins as a "white man", ignoring the fact that she is paler still, and that most Arabs consider themselves to be white.
- In Bedouin (and the middle east as a whole) cultures, mares are not only far more valuabled than stallions (to a point where a prize mare will sleep in the family's tent), they are preferred over stallions in almost everything.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Frank.
- Epic Race
- Evil Brit: No British character in this film is honest.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard) wears some simply stunning Victorian riding outfits.
- The Gump: Frank carries the message that results after some shenanigans in the Wounded Knee Massacre, becomes the star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and culminates by basically making the government to declare the Mustang horse a protected species.
- Halfbreed: Frank as portrayed in the film is half Native American.
- Fake Mixed Race: The leading character is played by Viggo Mortensen.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Aragorn is apparently still doing the hero thing.
- High-Class Glass
- Magical Native American: The chief in Buffalo Bill's show could qualify.
- Mighty Whitey: Two counts: First, Hopkins comes to be seen as a champion of the native-Americans (perhaps forgivable, as he is indeed half-Indian, and on an Indian horse). Second, the entire premise is that he beats the Arabians and the bedouins at their own race, on their own land, against their champion riders and horses. And also has to bat off the Shiek's daughter, to boot.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Frank remembers he is this just when his fighting skills are needed.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner
- Save the Princess: The horse riding, headstrong princess still ends up playing this trope straight.
- Scenery Porn: The views of the Arabian landscape and especially the extremely colorful sunsets over the desert definitely count as this.
- Second-Person Attack: As seen in this trailer at around 2:08.
- Shoo the Dog: Played straight at the end of the movie and surprisingly without angst. Yes folks, sometimes horses do just walk away.
- Spikes of Doom: A spiked trap shows up at one point.
- Thirsty Desert: So much.
- The Victorian Era: The movie is set in 1891.
- The Wild West
- Tragic Mulatto: Frank had a white father and a Native American mother. As a result, he said he didn't know where he belonged.