Home to over two million Mexicans, Hidalgo is a state located in east-central México. It is bordered on the south by the states of México and Tlaxcala, on the west by the state of Querétaro, on the north by the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz and on the east by the state of Puebla. It was part of the state of México until 1869, when it was established as a separate state in honor of the revolutionary patriot Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Although fairly well urbanized today, Hidalgo still has numerous indigenous groups, such as the Otomí, living in agricultural villages and settlements. Pachuca is the state capital. Tula, west of Pachuca, was once capital of the Toltecs and is an archaeological site. Tulancingo and Huejutla de Reyes are commercial cities. The main Matamoros-Mexico City highway also traverses the state.

Population: (1980) = 1,547,493; (1990) = 1,888,366; (2000) = 2,235,591.

Population provided by www.citypopulation.de
Also known as asteroid 944, Hidalgo was discovered on October 31, 1920 by Walter Baade in Hamburg, Germany. It was named after Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the father of Mexican independence, after Mexico allowed Baade's group to observe a 1923 solar eclipse in that country.

Hidalgo has an extremely elliptical orbit (at 0.70, more so than even Pluto), that takes it to within striking distance of the Martian orbit to well past Saturn. It's inclination of 42.4° is almost diagonal, and its especially long period of around 14.1 years (the longest for any asteroid) lead some to believe that Hidalgo is actually an extinct comet.

Aside from Hidalgo's strange characteristics, it isn't particularly noteworthy, except perhaps for its inclusion in odd 'scientific' works. In 1946, W.H. Pickering (the planet predictor) listed Hidalgo as an outer planet in his attempt to prove the existance of a trans-Plutonian planet at 77.8 AU (more than twice Pluto's distance from the Sun).

Director: Joe Johnston
Writer: John Fusco

Viggo Mortenson.....Frank Hopkins
Zuleikha Robinson.....Jazira
Omar Sharif.....Sheikh Riyadh
Louise Lombard.....Lady Anne Davenport
Adam Alexi-Malle.....Aziz
Said Taghmaoui.....Prince Bin Al Reeh
J.K. Simmons.....Buffalo Bill

Based on the improbable stories of Frank T. Hopkins, Hidalgo has been variously interpreted as Walt Disney's answer to 2003's Seabiscuit (it's unclear which project was conceived first) and their propaganda contribution to the conflict in Iraq. Certainly, it tells the story of a man and a horse, and claims to be based on historical fact. Unlike Seabiscuit, however, that claim has attracted the wrath of historians. That the man, an American cowboy and the horse, a good ol' mustang, go to the Middle East and kick butt may only coincidentally reflect on certain contemporary events.

The film begins in 1890, with heroic dispatcher Hopkins delivering a sealed message to Wounded Knee. This turns out to contain the fatal order, and the infamous massacre of Sioux takes place shortly thereafter.

Some months later, he has found a place in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, but he has been plagued by the slaughter of his mother's people at Wounded Knee, and has taken to drink, not unlike Tom Cruise's character in The Last Samurai. Fate intervenes in the form of a travelling Arab, whose country has taken offence to Hopkins' claim to own the fastest horse on earth, Hidalgo. Coming as he does from a culture that emphasizes the breeding lines of horses, this visitor takes special umbrage at the fact that this horse is an American mustang. He insists that Hopkins and Cody cease making the claim, or else prove it. The proof involves entering and winning the "Ocean of Fire," a 3,000 mile endurance race across the Arabian deserts that has been held for 1,000 years. No westerner has ever entered; many entrants do not survive.

Viewers may be baffled that Disney chose to present the events as a true story. Never mind that the Buffalo Bill Museum can find no record of Hopkins, and the "Ocean of Fire" simply never happened, in 1890, 890, or ever. Hidalgo works best as an old-fashioned, swashbuckling, Indiana Jones-style adventure about a cowboy in the Arabian desert. Its events beg to be viewed as heroic fantasy. Along the route of his race, Hopkins has time for adventures: battling villains, rescuing the Sheikh's daughter, and winning the man's admiration.

It's not easy to reconcile the big budget stunts, cheesy exotica, sneering villains, Trigger-smart horse, and fast-quipping hero with the grim opening scenes. Furthermore, the later portions of the movie lack the weight to justify the overall length. These characters cannot sustain a film that lasts more than two hours.

The actors try, certainly. Mortensen invests Hopkins with character, but he's given too few developed interactions with anyone but his horse. He works best against Omar Sharif's dime novel-reading sheikh, but that relationship falls into a clichéd depiction of people overcoming cultural barriers to become friends. Despite Sharif's charisma and Mortensen's talent, we don't see anything deeper.

Clichés abound. Every woman falls for our hero. The hero's sidekick functions as comic relief. A likeable, tough Black character gets introduced so that he can die with nobility while helping the protagonist. Tradition traps a free-spirited Muslim woman, but she risks all to aid Hopkins. A vision by the half-native Hopkins shows him the way in his most desperate hour. And, despite impossible odds and cheating adversaries, Hopkins triumphs, riding into Damascus to cheers of "Cowboy! Cowboy!" from the assembled Arabs. The movie ends with a dip in the Mediterranean, on the shores of which Damascus has been conveniently relocated.

Hidalgo did not perform to expectations at the box office, though it may find a larger audience on video and DVD. Much of the publicity that attended this film focussed on controversies. Some people complained about its depiction of Arabs and Islam. Though the film's portrayals are decidedly mixed, the film at the very least participates in a problematic exotification of Native and Arab cultures. As previously mentioned, its release during the current American conflict with Iraq has raised eyebrows. Most of the controversy, however, surrounds the fact that Disney claimed the movie is "based on a true story." That issue has been addressed elsewhere.

In the end, this hybrid, half alleged history with serious undertones, half tall adventure tale with serial pacing, will appeal to some people, but it's unlikely to take its place among the classics of either genre.

Hi*dal"go (?), n. [Sp., contr. fr. hijo de algo, i. e., son of something; hijo son (fr. LL. filius) + algo something, fr. L. aliquod. Cf. Fidalgo.]

A title, denoting a Spanish nobleman of the lower class.


© Webster 1913.

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