DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Hemingway & Gellhorn, Blu-ray (2013)

A wild and wooly miniseries that is worth viewing.

Published on April 12, 2013

Hemingway & Gellhorn, Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, Peter Coyote, David Strathairn
Director: Philip Kaufman
Studio: HBO Films (2 discs) [4/2/13]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color & B&W
Audio: English PCM Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS Surround 2.0, English & French 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish 
Extras: “Inside Hemingway & Gellhorn,” Visual Effects pieces, Audio commentary track by Kaufman
Length: 155 minutes
Rating: ****

With two acclaimed actors and the director of The Unbearable Lightness of Being in his first film for TV, this miniseries told of the passionate love affair of the famous writer and the nearly-famous female war correspondent. Gellhorn had a respected career completely independent from Hemingway’s and in one scene during one of their fiery fights, she says she refuses to be “a footnote in someone else’s life.”  The blurb on the cover states “We were good in war. And when there was no war, we made our own.” That rather sums it up, though some viewers felt it wasn’t at all representative of the book on which it was based.

The main wars that are touched on are the Spanish Civil War, Gellhorn’s coverage of the Russian/Finnish conflict, and finally WW II. In between they have a honeymoon in China, meeting both Mr. & Mrs. Chiang Ki Check and Chou en Lai. They return to tell Roosevelt and his cabinet about the probable success of the Communists in taking over China, and as a result are pegged as Communist “pinkos.” These scenes put them into amazing Forrest-Gump-like historical footage, which is also used thruout the film as they are placed on actual Madrid streets during the Spanish Civil War and at Nazi concentration camps at the end of the WW II. Even the front of their house in Havana is the actual Hemingway house there.

Kidman, made up convincingly as an older woman, tells the story of their life together in a series of flashbacks from their first meeting in 1936 to his suicide in 1961. She is effective and sexy in her role, though Owens is sometimes a bit over the top in his boistorous style. The film is all over the place in drama, adventure and romance but works fairly well. Gellhorn’s humanitarian horror at what she sees is well communicated. The film is somewhat similar to Warren Beatty’s Reds, though of course the Hemingways were not Reds.

—John Sunier




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