Friday, March 28, 2014

Hemingway and Gellhorn Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Hemingway & Gellhorn recounts one of the greatest romances of the last century - the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn - as it follows the adventurous writers through the Spanish Civil War and beyond. The combined magnetism of Hemingway and Gellhorn ushered them into social circles that included the elite of Hollywood, the aristocracy of the literary world and the First Family of the United States. As witnesses to history, they covered all the great conflicts of their time, but the war they couldn't survive was the war between themselves.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
In Florida, after a long day of fishing, Ernest Hemingway is celebrating and taking photos of his catch at a bar, when in walks Martha Gellhorn. After sharing a drink and being rebuffed, Hemingway invites her to his home for a viewing of a newsreel regarding the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Shortly after, both Hemingway and Gellhorn are in Spain… He is there filming a movie about the way and she is there as a war correspondent for Collier’s International. After a bombing of the hotel, Hemingway and Gellhorn begin an affair lasting after their return from Spain. 

Two years later, after moving to Cuba, they settle into a life of relaxation and routine. He is writing again and she’s working on her stories. Unfortunately, one phone call from Collier’s changes all that. Gellhorn is asked to cover war-time events in Finland. A few months later, Gellhorn returns to Cuba and finds Hemingway drunk and the house a mess. She is angry, but Hemingway shows her the papers proving his divorce from his second wife. They get married and travel the world on a honeymoon. While honeymooning, Hemingway and Gellhorn meet with Communist leader of China, Chiang Kai-shek. Gellhorn is there courtesy of Collier’s who wants her to write a story about the leader and World War II. After returning from their travels, Hemingway and Gellhorn meet with President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and when Ernest presents a speech in New York he is upstaged by his wife.

After returning to Cuba, Ernest and Martha fall back into their routine. Ernest, however, becomes more and more depressed and obsessed with bombing U-boats in the Caribbean. Martha can’t take it any longer and calls Collier’s asking for an assignment. She wants to be sent to Europe to cover the war. However, Collier’s has offered the position to Ernest. Martha, determined to go, talk her way onto a ship full of nurses and makes her way to the front lines. In Europe, Ernest begins an affair similar to how he met Martha, and while drunk, gets into a car accident. Martha goes to the hospital, and after seeing him there with his friends and mistress, asks for a divorce. Marta goes on with her life, and Ernest with his.

The story, as told to some reporters by Gellhorn, is told as an interview about her life. She is recounting how she met, fell in love with, married and ultimately divorced Ernest Hemmingway. Nicole Kidman did an excellent job portraying Martha Gellhorn and Clive Owen was a perfect Hemingway. I loved the story and their interactions together. As a reader, I’ve read a couple Hemingway books and had heard of Martha Gellhorn, but never really learned too much about her. This movie makes me want to learn more about her, about her history, and about her life with Ernest Hemingway. It’s obvious in the movie Hemingway was jealous of her success at times, and both actors did a good job at portraying all the emotions brought on by that jealousy.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Hemingway and Gellhorn is presented in 1080p High Definition 16:9, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In my opinion, I haven’t seen a clearer, more excellently done presentation in a while. The movie ranges from the bright colors of Cuba, to the war-torn browns and grays of Spain and Europe. The picture switches from black and white, to sepia, to full color and it’s all well done and flows nicely. The touch of the antiquing is wonderful and really adds to the movie. There are also moments where the picture looks like a 1940s newsreel. This, too, is excellently done and even with the grainy newsreel look, the picture is very clear. Impressively executed and very well put together.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for Hemingway and Gellhorn is good, though, at times, a little too loud or soft. I had to adjust the volume a couple of times when bombings from the war scenes were too loud or the soft-spoken dialogue was too soft. For those who need it, Hemingway and Gellhorn is available in French DTS Digital Surround 5.1 and Spanish DTS Digital Surround 2.1. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
  • Behind the Visual Effects – This was a look at how the crew transformed the San Francisco Bay Area into Europe, China and Cuba. It was interesting to see how so many places within the City of San Francisco were used to film this movie – from Chinatown to the Mission District (the Hispanic neighborhood) to Fisherman’s Wharf – San Francisco became every location needed. To step in for the fields of Europe, the filmmakers traveled 45 minutes outside of San Francisco. This was so interesting to me because every single location shown in this feature is a location I have been to, toured, visited or driven passed. All these places were nearly unrecognizable as the transformation was excellent.
  • Making Hemingway and Gellhorn – This is a behind-the-scenes look at how Hemingway and Gellhorn was made. How the movie became a movie. Included are interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Philip Kaufman and Editor Walter Murch – The entire film with audio commentary by the director and the editor.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Hemingway and Gellhorn is an excellent movie about the lives of two of the United States’ most interesting writers… He as an author who has written books like For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, and she and one of the world’s first women war correspondents and arguably the best war correspondent of her time. At two hours and 35 minutes, it was a little bit long, and near the end, I found myself looking at the clock, but the story was wonderful, the acting top notch and the whole thing made me want to read up on their life together and to learn more about each of them as a person.

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