Posted by: Michelle Knoll | June 11, 2009

“Hidalgo” — A Movie Review

I seem to be watching a lot of movies lately…

I know this one is old, but I hadn’t seen it yet.  So we rented it and watched it at home.  Yes, it would have been better on the big screen.  No doubt about that.  But it was still a good movie.

“Hidalgo” — a Mustang born and bred in the United States — goes to the Middle East to take part in a race across the Arabian desert, a grueling 3,000 mile stretch that terrifies even the best of Bedouin riders, and he’s running against the best of the best of purebred Arabian horses.

Enter Frank Hopkins, rough rider from the Wild West, and a dispatch rider for the U.S. Cavalry.  You don’t realize that he’s part Indian at the beginning of the movie.  However, his heritage has a lot to do with how he sees things, and how he handles life.  He saw the massacre at Wounded Knee, and it affected him deeply.  He was “wounded” within his own soul, when he saw what happened to the Indians.

I know the story is about the horse, Hidalgo, and how he made it across the harshest of deserts, and how the horse’s attitude and spirit helped the rider through the toughest of circumstances.  But I think the story is also about the man.

Frank Hopkins understood what it meant to “take dominion over the earth, and subdue it” as the book of Genesis states.  He knew how to handle a horse, without browbeating it.  He knew how to work in harmony with the nature of a horse.  He understood how to… understand… one of God’s creations.  Why? Because he had learned to take the time to do those things.  He had learned how to be patient, and how to give and not just take.

He also understood the pride of man, and the greediness of man, and the hatred of man toward other men.  He understood how man will stop at nothing to satisfy his lusts: lust for power, lust for fame, lust for satisfaction.  He faced all of these obstacles and more, in a race that would make the greatest horseman shudder.  But more importantly, he faced his own doubts and fears, and triumphed over them, winning more than the prize from the race could ever give him.  Yes, it’s true, he won a sizable amount of money, and money meant power, even in the 1800’s.  He won quite a large bit of fame from winning that race in the desert.  He also won the satisfaction of knowing that he could beat some of the best purebreds that ever lived.

But Frank Hopkins won more than that, in my opinion.  He not only won power and fame and satisfaction, but he also won freedom.  Freedom from his fears, from his self-doubt, and from a life of “what if?” or the belief that his life was over, a belief that would have surely killed him.  He won freedom from the constant nagging thought of, “you’re a nobody now, Frank, and there’s no one who can help.”  He won freedom from the pain of what he witnessed at Wounded Knee, by being able to return to the United States and release the wild mustangs from captivity, back into freedom.  He even set Hidalgo free at the end of the movie.

It’s a movie about courage, about overcoming obstacles, and about facing impossible challenges.  It’s a movie about dealing with evil in lots of different forms, including treachery and deceit.  It’s a movie about knowing who you are, and believing in yourself, and rising to the occasion.  It’s a movie about overcoming the odds, and overcoming your own limitations, to go beyond the limits of your own thinking and your own soul.

Rent the movie, and run the race with Hidalgo.  It’s worth the ride.


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