Clive Owen & Nicole Kidman Star in HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn: Two Writers, A Marriage and a Civil War

On the 28th of next month, HBO will air Hem­ing­way & Gell­horn, a fea­ture-length dra­ma based on the tit­u­lar writ­ers’ five-year mar­riage. Direct­ed by well-known adapter of lit­er­a­ture and his­to­ry Philip Kauf­man — he of The Right Stuff, Hen­ry & June, and Quills — the film roots itself in the peri­od of 1936 to 1945, begin­ning with the cou­ple’s first encounter in Flori­da and fol­low­ing them into the Span­ish Civ­il War, which pro­vid­ed both of them with vivid mate­r­i­al indeed. Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans — and no doubt much of the rest of the read­ing world — need no intro­duc­tion to Ernest Hem­ing­way, author of such oft-assigned nov­els as The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Ris­es, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. As the quin­tes­sen­tial high-liv­ing, sav­age­ly artis­tic, and aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly respect­ed fig­ure movies love, he’s under­gone a great many cin­e­mat­ic res­ur­rec­tions this last decade and a half: Albert Finney played him in Hem­ing­way, The Hunter of Death; Vin­cent Walsh played him in Hem­ingway: That Sum­mer in Paris; Corey Stoll played him most vis­i­bly in Woody Allen’s Mid­night in Paris; and Antho­ny Hop­kins will play him in next year’s Hem­ing­way and Fuentes. Movie-star buffs must have all kinds of expec­ta­tions for “Papa” as embod­ied in the ever-ris­ing Clive Owen, but some­thing tells me they’ll have even more to say about Nicole Kid­man’s turn as Martha Gell­horn.

If you can’t imme­di­ate­ly place the name of Martha Gell­horn in the life of Ernest Hem­ing­way, it’s per­haps because she, her­self, helped ensure that. After she divorced him in 1945, Gell­horn specif­i­cal­ly request­ed that her inter­view­ers nev­er so much as bring up Hem­ing­way’s name. Though it counts as no fail­ure to fall under Hem­ing­way’s shad­ow in the pub­lic lit­er­ary imag­i­na­tion — most writ­ers do, after all — Gell­horn carved out her own siz­able place in the his­to­ry of for­eign cor­re­spon­dence, report­ing on war not only from Spain but from Eng­land, Hong Kong, Viet­nam, Fin­land, Sin­ga­pore, Ger­many, Czecho­slo­va­kia, Bur­ma, Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, and the Mid­dle East. Hem­ing­way & Gell­horn, whose trail­er you can watch above, seems like­ly to fill in plen­ty of bio­graph­i­cal details that many of Hem­ing­way’s read­ers, and even many of Gell­horn’s, don’t know. But you can’t yet watch it on the inter­net, or on DVD — or in any form at all, for that mat­ter — until after May 28th. Then, pre­sum­ably, you can see exact­ly how Martha Gell­horn inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Remem­ber­ing Ernest Hem­ing­way, Fifty Years After His Death

Ernest Hem­ing­way Reads “In Harry’s Bar in Venice”

Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea Ani­mat­ed Not Once, But Twice

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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