All that time on horseback while playing Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings may have been beneficial for Viggo Mortensen. In Hidalgo, he is Frank T Hopkins, supposedly the greatest rider the West has ever known.
So good is the cowboy that, in 1890, he is invited to participate in a race - but not just any race. This is the Oceans of Fire, an annual centuries old trek across the Arabian Desert that, until now, has been restricted to pure blood Arabian horses and their Bedouin riders. Hopkins horse, Hidalgo, is a mustang, a mixed breed - as is Hopkins himself who has Indian blood. It is Hopkins reputation as the best long distance horse rider in the world that prompts the powerful Sheik Riyadh (Omar Sharif) to invite him to participate in the gruelling race.
Regarded as an infidel by the other participants who also see Hidalgo as inferior to their royal horses, Frank has to prove his and his horses worth to their disdainful opponents, some of who are determined to stop the outsider from completing the race. Not only does the Oceans of Fire become a matter of pride for Hopkins - and Hidalgo - but also one of survival. Its not just the treachery of other competitors that make this ordeal such a seemingly impossible one; Mother Nature at her most punishing also intervenes in the form of a wild sandstorm and a plague of locusts! At one stage, the adventurer also takes time out to rescue the sheiks daughter, Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson)!
A fast moving and often spectacular adventure, Hidalgo is also a great tale about a loner and the magnificent horse that is so much a part of his life and triumphs.