Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2013


 "Hemingway and Gellhorn" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements



This award-winning movie follows the relationship of Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) and Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War through their divorce near the end of World War II.  Shot in a unique style, the movie intersperses modern footage with vintage film from conflicts in Spain, Finland, China and Europe.  The supporting cast features a number of notable stars such as David Strathairn, Tony Shalhoub, Parker Posey, Lars Ulrich, Molly Parker and Rodrigo Santoro.


  • HBO
  • 2012, Color, Rated TV-MA, 2 Hr 35 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master
  • Starring: Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen
  • Directed by: Philip Kaufman
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes


I jumped all over this movie when it came across the wire.  That's because my own Mother met Ernest Hemingway in Cuba in 1951.  I even remember seeing a picture of her and him sitting in his boat.  So I wanted to see this recreation of Hemingway in a very big way.  Due to a series of conflicts, I wound up watching this movie over the span of two evenings.  In the first shift, I watched the beginning through where Hemingway and Gellhorn consummate their relationship.  I found this beginning sequence of the movie to be curiously boring.  I didn't get back to the movie for the better part of a week.  Then when I did get the chance to finish off the movie, I really got into the last hour and a half of it and my final analysis is that this is a powerful and profound story.  But I'm only giving it three and a half stars because of the tepid beginning and the somewhat bloated runtime.


This movie features very unique cinematography.  It is a mix of pristine digital photography, digital photography that is manipulated to look dated as well as scenes where the modern day actors are inserted into vintage footage.  This results in continuous transitions between color imagery, sepia-hued monochrome to over-saturated colors with significant film grain.  The transitions are sudden but the effect, though gimmicky, is passed along nicely through the clean and sharp transfer.  

The DTS HD Master audio is bombastic in the battle scenes and demonstrates excellent vocal clarity in the softer sequences.  The musical score is also beautifully recorded and mastered.  This movie won Emmy Awards for Sound Editing and for Javier Navarrete's Music Composition.  I heartily agree with these awards after spending some time with the Blu-ray of this film.   


I reviewed a two-disc collection that includes the Blu-ray and a DVD. The special features on the Blu-ray are in High Definition and include "Behind the Visual Effects" (the cast and crew discuss the special effects and how they enriched the film's historical accuracy), "Making Hemingway & Gellhorn" (from casting to costumes to editing, the cast and crew provide a detailed view of the production process) and an Audio Commentary with Director Philip Kaufman and Editor Walter Murch.