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Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Clive Owen and Academy Award and three-time Golden Globe winner Nicole Kidman star in the title roles of HBO Films’ ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’, under the direction of Academy Award nominee Philip Kaufman.
Kaufman directs from a script by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner. Debuting Monday, May 28 (9:00-11:40 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, ‘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.
‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’ also stars Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (‘Goodnight, and Good Luck’, HBO’s ‘Temple Grandin’), Rodrigo Santoro (‘I Love You Philip Morris’, ‘300’), SAG Award nominee Molly Parker (‘The Road’, HBO’s ‘Deadwood’), Golden Globe nominee Parker Posey (‘Superman Returns’, ‘A Mighty Wind’), Santiago Cabrera (‘Che: Part 1’), actor-musician Lars Ulrich (‘Get Him to the Greek’, founding member of Metallica), Saverio Guerra (‘Lucky You’), Emmy nominee Peter Coyote (‘Erin Brockovich’, ‘Law & Order: LA’), Joan Chen (‘The Last Emperor’) and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Tony Shalhoub (‘Monk’, HBO’s ‘Too Big to Fail’).
The whirlwind story 1936: Ernest Hemingway [Clive Owen] falls under the spell of the beautiful novelist and assured magazine writer Martha Gellhorn [Nicole Kidman] when he first meets her in Sloppy Joe’s, a bar in Key West, Fla. They meet again in Spain, when she persuades a friend at Collier’s Weekly to give her credentials as a special correspondent, covering the Spanish Civil War and the attempt by Franco and the Fascists, with the aid of Hitler and Mussolini, to overthrow the democratically elected government.
Hemingway has left behind his wife, Pauline [Molly Parker], and their two sons in Key West and has come to Spain to help his friends Joris Ivens [Lars Ulrich], John Dos Passos [David Strathairn] and Robert Capa [Santiago Cabrera] shoot the documentary “The Spanish Earth,” about the struggle to defeat Fascism. Gellhorn joins them.
Hemingway watches over and tutors Gellhorn, as the fledgling reporter discovers her voice and learns from him the essence of the Hemingway code of behavior: honor, courage, bravery and endurance in a life of stress, misfortune and pain. In short, grace under pressure.
To Hemingway, having these qualities makes a man become a man and proves his worth. Gellhorn comes to embody these principles, perhaps even outdoing Hemingway. In a crucial situation where Gellhorn evidences her heroism, Hemingway is prompted to say, “She is the bravest woman I ever saw.”
Back from the war, Hemingway and Gellhorn settle in Cuba, where she finds the run-down villa Finca Vigia. There they begin a new life together. Hemingway writes “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which he dedicates to Gellhorn. When Collier’s offers her a job to cover the Russian invasion of Finland, Hemingway wants her to stay, but Gellhorn feels she must go and bear witness to the world’s upheaval. She later wrote, “I followed the war wherever I could reach it.”
Gellhorn longs to return to Hemingway and in their passionate correspondences the two of them vow that they will never leave each other again. She arrives home to find her beloved Finca Vigia in total disarray, strewn with Hemingway’s hangers-on. But a surprise awaits her as Hemingway proudly displays signed divorce papers from Pauline. Gellhorn, who never asked to be married, consents to becoming his third wife.
As the Japanese invade China, Gellhorn is offered an assignment to do an interview with the most powerful political couple in the world: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek [Larry Tse] and the “Empress of China,” Madame Chiang [Joan Chen]. After some cajoling by Gellhorn to look at it as a paid honeymoon, Hemingway reluctantly agrees to accompany her.
While there, Hemingway and Gellhorn are taken blindfolded by boat to a secret meeting with Communist leader Chou En-lai [Anthony Brandon Wong], whom they find impressive and believe to be the wave of the future. They report their findings to Gellhorn’s old friends, President Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the State Department swiftly brands Hemingway and Gellhorn “fellow travelers.”
Hemingway is deeply stung by the charge of being unpatriotic and becomes increasingly agitated. Back in Cuba, Hemingway arms his boat, the Pilar, to patrol the Caribbean for Nazi U-boats, while carousing with his cronies. Gellhorn is restless, feeling isolated from the world-shaking events she longs to be a part of.
They quarrel frequently. Hemingway wants a stay-at-home wife to share his bed, while she realizes that the greatest enemy of marriage is boredom. Gellhorn wants to cover the impending Allied invasion in Europe, but Hemingway selfishly compromises her assignment from Collier’s. Their marriage falls apart.
Image Courtesy of HBO