A&E’s long-running biography series takes a look at one of the 20th century’s most emblematic figures, Ernest Hemingway. Through a collection of still photography, narration by granddaughter Mariel Hemingway, commentary from author A.E. Hotchner and publisher Charles Scribner, and readings from Hemingway’s writing (including personal letters and unpublished works) by Scott Glenn, the film takes us from the man’s Midwestern childhood roots up through the tragic suicide that serves as a bittersweet exclamation on what is otherwise considered to be a life of profound accomplishment.
With only a finite amount of authentic media existing from his life, diehard Hemingway aficionados will find some of the sights and sounds to be redundant, but for the passive fan, the film is filled with fascinating insight into the Nobel laureate’s life. The film paints a clear picture of what was not always a perfect man – recounts of his infidelity during his numerous marriages, tumultuous relationships with his children, and political stances that were not always aligned with a popular opinion were just some of the blemishes that come along with all his accomplishment and are delved into here.
The words from his more celebrated works – A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea – read alongside the stories of a dozen lifetimes worth of living that make up the experiences Hemingway endured along the way, weave a near-unfathomable tapestry of what would be thought of as tall fishing tales coming as recounts from most men. Hemingway’s willingness to get his hands dirty in some of the modern era’s bloodiest wars – both World Wars I and II, the Spanish Civil War – inform a body of literary work that is often considered to reflect those luxury-deprived experiences; crime and pulp fiction novels comprised of terse, sparing prose that is regarded as being far more nimble than the words you are reading here.
Whether you’ve devoured all his books multiple times, or have only skimmed one or two of them, there’s surely something new and intriguing about the life of Ernest Hemingway that you’ll take away from this biography.