Saturday, August 09, 2014

"Hemingway and Gellhorn"

by Edd Doerr

HBO's "Hemingway and Gellhorn" premiered on Memorial Day. Although the Washington Post's reviewer looked down its nose at the 2.5 hour film starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman (who nicely shed their British and Australian accents) it was really quite good. It follows the writing pair from the beginning of the Spanish civil war through the Soviet-Finnish war in 1940 through World Wat II. Over half of the film deals with the Spanish civil war and ddes  not spare its complexity and rough-and-tumble. Hemingway's personal flaws are all there and Martha Gellhorn is clearly the gutsier of the pair.The film looses blasts at theb Catholic Church for its support of Franco. I would give the film at least four stars.

While we are on the subject of Spain's civil war, let me recommend three other films. "Land and  Freedom" is a terrific British film from a decade or so ago based on George Orwell's book Homage to Catalonia (though, oddly, without attribution). It fictionalizes the Orwell account and highlights the conflicting factiins on the republican side.

"Pan's Labyrinth" won the best foreign film Oscar a couple of years or so ago. A magnificent Spanish film, its fascinating story takes place in the summer of 1944 when republican forces were still holding out against Franco's victorious fascists and hoping that the Allies would knock off Franco after they finished with Hitler. (Too bad they didn't.)

"Ay, Carmela!", from over a decade ago, is a Spanish film that follows a couple of Spanish republican entertainers who fall into the hands of Italian troops aiding Franco. The funniest scene involves the Italian commander, an amateur theatrical producer in civilian life in Italy, persuading the Spanish entertainer to put on a musical the Italian has written in exchange for his life and that of his entertainer wife. The Spaniard is speaking  Spanish and the Italian Ita

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