Saturday 17 May 2008

Hidalgo - The middle-eastern western

Director Joe Johnston's charming 2004 adventure Hidalgo, proves that they do still make 'em like they used to. That is, a good old-fashioned family movie. Viggo Mortensen plays Frank T. Hopkins, a down at heel long-distance horse racer who along with his trusty mustang, Hidalgo, agrees to compete in "The Ocean of Fire," a treacherous 3,000-mile horse race across the Arabian desert.

Breathtakingly photographed, by Shelly Johnson and lovingly directed by Joe Johnston, Hidalgo harks back to the epic westerns of yore. Viggo Mortensen's plays Hopkins like Gary Cooper. Omar Sharif provides the nobility and Louise Lombard provides the dastardly eye candy. Hidalgo the mustang of course steals every scene!

James Newton Howard, who for many years was unfairly considered a poor man's James Horner, provides a classic Americana Western score with deft middle eastern flourishes. It's a stirring and charming score that recalls the joys of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein and a smigeon of Aaron Copland.

If you love an old-fashioned movie that you can watch with your Gran (and shed a surrepticious tear at the end) and you have a hankering for a great understated movie score then look no further than Hidalgo.

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