Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2021 / PBS)
Overview: Hemingway examines the visionary work and turbulent life of one of the greatest and most influential American writers, Ernest Hemingway.
Intimate and insightful, the series weaves together Hemingways biography with excerpts from his work. The film penetrates the myth of Hemingway to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure.
DVD Verdict: Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), born in Oak Park, Illinois, started his career as a writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City at the age of seventeen.
After the United States entered the First World War, he joined a volunteer ambulance unit in the Italian army. Serving at the front, he was wounded, was decorated by the Italian Government, and spent considerable time in hospitals.
After his return to the United States, he became a reporter for Canadian and American newspapers and was soon sent back to Europe to cover such events as the Greek Revolution.
During the twenties, Hemingway became a member of the group of expatriate Americans in Paris, which he described in his first important work, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Equally successful was A Farewell to Arms (1929), the study of an American ambulance officers disillusionment in the war and his role as a deserter.
Hemingway used his experiences as a reporter during the civil war in Spain as the background for his most ambitious novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).
Among his later works, the most outstanding is the short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1952), the story of an old fishermans journey, his long and lonely struggle with a fish and the sea, and his victory in defeat.
Hemingway, himself a great sportsman, liked to portray soldiers, hunters, bullfighters, tough, at times primitive people whose courage and honesty are set against the brutal ways of modern society, and who in this confrontation lose hope and faith.
His straightforward prose, his spare dialogue, and his predilection for understatement are particularly effective in his short stories, some of which are collected in Men Without Women (1927) and The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938). Hemingway died in Idaho in 1961.
Episode One A Writer (1899-1929)
Hemingway enjoys an idyllic childhood in Oak Park, Illinois but, yearning for adventure, volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I. He marries Hadley Richardson, moves to Paris and begins his life as a writer, publishing In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises. He finds critical and commercial success with his second novel, A Farewell to Arms.
Episode Two The Avatar (1929-1944)
Hemingway, having achieved a level of fame rarely seen in the literary world, settles in Key West with Pauline Pfeiffer and spends his time seeking new conquests in the natural world - marlin fishing in the Gulf Stream and hunting in Africa. Inspired by the fight against Fascism, he reports on the Spanish Civil War and begins a tempestuous romance with Martha Gellhorn.
Episode Three "The Blank Page (1944-1961)
Hemingway, reeling from his split with Martha, attaches himself to the U.S. Army as it moves through Normandy and liberates Paris. After the war he tries to start a new life with Mary Welsh but is beset with personal tragedies and professional mishaps. He publishes The Old Man and the Sea and wins the Nobel Prize but eventually is overcome by addiction, physical trauma and depression.
This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.