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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
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(2004), PG-13 ... a tall tale -- on a short horse.
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Touchstone Pictures, Hidalgo Productions, Casey Silver Productions
Distribution (US): Buena Vista Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Director(s): Joe Johnston
Producer(s): Patricia Carr, Chris Salvaterra, Casey Silver, Don Zepfel
Written by/Screenplay: John Fusco
Cinematography/Camera: Shelly Johnson
Music: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: Robert Dalva
Casting: Nancy Foy
Production Design: Barry Robison
Art Direction: Kevin Constant, Troy Sizemore
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6
This one is for LM, N&CC and T&LH.
John T. Hopkins, played by Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn of The Lord of the Rings - Fellowship; Two Towers; Return of the King) was a legendary long distance horse racer. Atop the Spanish Mustang, Hidalgo, Hopkins is reported to have won more than 400 long distance races. Nicknamed Blue Child since he was the son of a US Army officer and a Native American of the 19th century. Hopkins was also named Far Rider by the American Indians from his history and successes in long distance races by horse. His "Far Rider" title would prove its meaning in a 3000 mile race across the Arabian desert.
We meet Hopkins as he decks a contender in a bar and is approached by an Army attache with a dispatch to a military policing outfit established to "control" the Native Americans. Hopkins delivered the dispatch not knowing it was orders to disarm them - at any cost - which led to their slaughter by a single carelessly discharged rifle. After realizing he had been party to the slaughter by delivering the dispatch, Hopkins became a drunk with Buffalo Bill Cody (J.K. Simmons) and his Wild Wild West show complete with Annie Oakley (Elizabeth Berridge). (Berridge looks more like an Annie Oakley than any other Annie Oakley actress I have seen.)
In Hollywood's recent fetish with "based on true", Hidalgo is supposed to be based on the real-life adventures of Hopkins (apparently a true historical figure), one of which was supposed to be the 3000 mile race across the Arabian desert. It is reported that such a tall tale is just that, a tall tale -- on a short horse. Dr. Al-Badi, director of research at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies says "The idea of a historic trans-Arabian horse race ever having run is pure nonsense... simply from a technical, logistical, cultural and geopolitical point of view." The author of the article, Peter Harrigan, Special to Arab News writes "But there is no source that points to the existence of such a race or tells of an American called Hopkins and his horse "Hidalgo" ever placing boots and hooves onto Arabian sand."
Other comments and reports seem to make it sound as though the Arabian people are attacking the movie for its dark portrayal of the Arabian people, just like many are attacking Mel Gibson, director of The Passion of the Christ for the movie's potential to make the Jewish folks appear evil. When a larger picture is inspected, I rather believe the professional gun crosshairs are not on Mel Gibson for portraying the Jewish characters as evil but are on the fact that the movie is a magnificent boost for the Christian faith. From TownHall.com, Pat Buchanan reports Sharon Waxman of The New York Times reported Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (DreamWorks [their "SKG" tag is the initials for Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen]), "have privately expressed anger over the film, said an executive close to the two men. ... The chairmen of two other major studios said they would avoid working with Mr. Gibson because of The Passion of the Christ." ... "'I won't hire him. I won't support anything he's part of. Personally that's all I can do,' said one of the chairmen."
But! Some of the true shame of our American past is portrayed as the Cavalry slaughters dozens of Native Americans. It is difficult to believe that we, as a people, could hold such noble people in such low regard as to slaughter them as a control maneuver, as if saying "Well, they are in our way and we have to do something with them as we advance" and discard them as if they were vermin. Even writing this makes us sound supremely arrogant with an Animal Farm (1954) mentality. What a black period in our history!
Because of Hopkins' legendary endurance and that of Hidalgo, Arabian Sheik Riyadh (Omar Sharif) invites Hopkins to enter the 1890 three thousand mile Ocean of Fire race across the Arabian desert from Aden to Syria against 100 thoroughbred horses bred specifically for the desert. Sand storms, Bedouin raiders and potentially lethal environmental conditions combine to make the journey one that apparently kills all but about three of the original racers.
The film departs from the race to enable Hopkins to rescue the Sheik Riyadh' daughter, Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson) and to recover a most valuable book of how to breed horses for endurance from the Sheik's nephew for payment by Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard) who has $100,000 invested in the race. And Jazira back talks her father in the name of defying tradition. Of course! It's a PG-13 for kids when they are old enough to challenge parental; authority and believe they are just in doing so. [Eph. 6:2]
After all is said and done, and after 130 minutes, the guy does not get the girl and the Sheik gets the gun.
One of our readers once described anther movie as "clean violence", meaning little to no blood and guts. That phrase describes Hidalgo fairly well. There is much violence. Heads are cut off. Many characters are killed by gunfire and are impaled with swords and spears thus the zero score in violence (W) [Phil. 4:8]. But the only blood I can recall is a little facial blood from fighting and that of Hidalgo as Hopkins surgically removed a spear from Hidalgo's upper leg. Foul language is surprisingly light for a PG-13. Six uses in all. [Eph. 4:29] Drinking and drunkenness is heavy though [Eph. 5:18]. And there is a murder of a child by gunfire. The above reference from the Arab News claims one of the riders whose horse fell and broke its leg committed suicide, but i did not see it in the cut I saw. It may have been there and I missed it as I was writing down that the rider killed his broken-leg horse. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will reveal all that was noted.
If you take anything with you from this movie, don't take with you that Arabians are blood-thirsty cutthroats. They are not. Some individuals may be but not the people. This movie, like all movies about fantasy, gives the wrong impression. [John 7:24]. Even if the violence portrayed in film is truly of actual events such as in The Passion of the Christ and Saving Private Ryan, it is not up to the MPAA to decide for you when your kids should be exposed to it. That is your decision to make and that is what we try to help you to make with information from actual observation.
It does seem that a lot of films are of late being accused of giving false impressions to the viewers about a people or events. The Passion of the Christ is one of them. Without saying it, they who complain about movies giving false impressions are admitting what so many try to deny - that movies influence. [1 Cor. 15:33]
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
Kids, Teens and Home Vertical Portal
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|