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Movie Preview: Hidalgo
His father was a cavalry scout. His mother was an Indian chief’s daughter. Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) was a cowboy caught between two worlds. His horse, Hidalgo, was also a mustang, not a pure breed, and yet the two were legendary in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, having never lost a long distance race. But Frank’s life is in turmoil when he becomes the first American to be invited to enter the Ocean of Fire, a grueling 3,000-mile race across the Arabian Desert.

Set in 1890, this incredible true story pits one of the American West’s greatest horsemen against Arabia’s finest riders and steeds in a race for glory and a fight for survival. Starring the charismatic Viggo Mortensen in his first role since playing Aragorn the King in the Lord of the Rings, Hidalgo promises to be a great horse picture in the tradition of The Black Stallion and Black Beauty, with a bit of Seabiscuit thrown in for good measure. We spoke with producer Casey Silver about the rewards and challenges of shooting a period piece like this around the globe.

"It gets pretty complicated when you have to move horses from one continent to another," Silver admits. "We had hundreds of horses and 25 different animal species to deal with and it’s like a chess game that requires months of preparation."

Was it worth all the trouble? "Of course," Silver says. "It was exciting, daunting and exhilarating, but getting a story worth telling is the most important thing. Sure it’s a gigantic challenge, but I think audiences everywhere will connect with the story of Frank Hopkins. There’s an exciting race that frames the story, but the real story is this man’s race to find himself, to find forgiveness within himself. It has the power of the intimate moment and the grand sweep of an epic."

And how did he find working with Viggo? "Viggo is an incredibly committed, thoughtful and generous actor," offers Silver. "And he’s an expert rider, as good at riding as he is at acting, so we were very fortunate to have him."

The movie is rated PG-13.

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