12
Sep 05

Black(ing up) Beauty

Do You SeePost a comment • 242 views

What is the most recent incidence of blacking up in cinema? Is it Ghandi? Is It Ali G? No it is in the film Hidalgo, a story of derring do, long distance horse races and shimmery, shimmery sands. And luckily for the PC Police (though PC = police to me), its only a horse that blacks up. It is one of many ridiculous and far fetched bits about this attempt at a historical epic that feels wrong. How would you black up a white horse top make it look like a prize stallion. I think it would be obvious from a distance.

Anyway, Viggo Mortensen plays a lack-lustre half Native American, half their oppressor who agrees to take part in an endurance race across Arabia (I think we are allowed to call it Arabia, as the film does – though there are big chunks in Iraq etc). In those days these were the races of toffs, unlike these days when any old Freud can take part.

Okay, just because the blacking up was restricted to the horse does not mean this film is not stuffed with dodgy racial stereotypes. The sophistication of the Arab characters comes straight out of any desert movie from the sixties: HELLO OMAR SHARIF. But come on, do they all keep having to say “As it is written” at the end of EVERY sentence? Its almost like someone reading out carriage returns.

Anyway, the drift is more than obvious. Moustache twirling baddies, oppressed woman, token evil Brit while you are at it. American triumphs with his “impure” horse, cos hey – aren’t all Americans impure? Its not a bad adventure film, but it has a lead who broods to much, a pretty ugly lead horse and its sensibilities are lost somewhere in the sixties. Hooray for Hollywood.

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