Director Philip Kaufman talks about how his HBO epic Hemingway & Gellhorn came to be.
Ernest Hemingway met his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, in 1936 in Key West. Hemingway was already world famous for the novels A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, several volumes of stories, and nonfiction, such as his account of bullfighting in Spain, Death in the Afternoon. Gellhorn, born in St. Louis in 1908, was a professional journalist who had just published The Trouble I've Seen, an account of the transient homeless in the U.S. that earned her national attention and began her lifelong friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt.
Philip Kaufman's two-and-a-half-hour epic, Hemingway & Gellhorn, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, picks up their story at their fateful meeting at Hemingway's favorite Key West hangout, Sloppy Joe's Bar, and follows them through their mercurial courtship and marriage in 1940 to their 1945 divorce. Together they covered the Spanish Civil War, the Russian invasion of Finland, the Japanese invasion of China, and World War II.
Hemingway & Gellhorn, which premiered on HBO on Monday and will be showing on the network throughout the coming month, marks Kaufman's return to directing after an eight-year absence. Over his 48-year long career he has made 13 feature films, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Right Stuff, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. With Hemingway & Gellhorn Kaufman finds himself in familiar territory. Like Unbearable Lightness, it's a love story set against the chaotic and turbulent background of a changing world. Like Henry and June, about the prolonged affair between Henry Miller and Anias Nin, it is the true tale of two larger-than-life literary figures. And like most of Kaufman's films, Hemingway & Gellhorn has the feel of a sweeping major production yet preserves a sense of intimacy.