A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has a lot of violence, including swords, knives, and guns. We see the result of the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee, with dead bodies everywhere. Characters and horses are shot, impaled, stabbed, and beheaded and one is threatened with castration. There are many tense scenes of peril, including quicksand. Characters drink, and Hopkins develops a drinking problem. A character smokes a hookah. There is some strong language and some crude humor. A woman offers Hopkins money and sex to get him to throw the race. The problem of prejudice against women and against those of other races, particularly mixed races, is a theme of the movie.
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What's the story?
In 1890, courier Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortenson) and his dappled mustang Hidalgo were the undefeated champions of endurance riding competitions, races of hundreds, even thousands of miles. After Hopkins delivers a dispatch that leads to the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee, he starts drinking, stops racing, and gets a job re-enacting cowboy and Indian battles in the Buffalo Bill show. Then he is challenged to compete in the world's oldest endurance race, a 3000 mile race across the Arabian desert. Also entering the competition is a horse owned by a powerful Shiekh (Omar Sharif), for whom winning is a matter of pride, and one owned by a titled Englishwoman (Louise Lombard), for whom it is a matter of money. A win would give her access to the finest thoroughbred Arabians for breeding. Hopkins and Hidalgo face treacherous conditions and even more treacherous competitors. A sandstorm, locusts, quicksand, and a detour to rescue a kidnapped princess provide many opportunities for swashbuckling action and spectacular cinematography.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Hopkins was so conflicted about his heritage and how his experience in the race made him understand it differently. They might want to look this tribute to "the legend of Frank Hopkins" and comments like these from historians who say that he fabricated his stories.
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