So I was watching Hidalgo the other day (for like the 15th time) and I wondered why I can watch some movies dozens of times but for most, once is enough.
I have seen Hidalgo over and over again, mostly in bits and pieces while I’m surfing the channels. Being the critter lover that I am, it probably isn’t all that surprising. But in truth, I find most critter movies go overboard on the smaltzy side of things. Hidalgo has some of that but is in general a good story.
It claims to be based on a true story. I tend to look at those claims with a critical eye, as most are extremely loosely based. For instance Dreamer (another horse movie) is “inspired” by a true story. But the only part that is true, is that a racing mare had the same kind of fracture and went on to race again. That’s it. Everything else was fabricated.
Frank T. Hopkins really did take his mustang named Hidalgo to race in Arabia in 1890 and won. However, all of the adventures during the race in the movie were fabricated to make it a more interesting story. Though wouldn’t you think it would have been a pretty good story anyway?
The part where I always catch my breath is when Hidalgo collapses from exhaustion near the end of the race. Frank pulls out his gun and puts it to his horse’s temple. As he builds his courage to shoot Hidalgo, he begins to talk about a race they had run in Missouri where they were 3 days in the lead and there was nothing but a sea of green. He says (paraphrasing here)” . . . If there is a heaven on earth that was surely it. And if there’s a heaven on earth, well then there must be a hell. We just couldn’t cross it, partner.”
The fact that I know in reality that never happened and Hidalgo won that race by 33 hours doesn’t diminish the emotional response I have, every time I see it. Maybe that’s what good story telling is all about.
Note: I got some of my information from the Frank T. Hopkins website which is dedicated to promoting the man. Though elsewhere, apparently there is some controversy over whether Frank T. Hopkins was in fact, a sharleton.