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Hemingway & Gellhorn Blu-ray Review

hemingway-and-gellhorn-blu-ray-cover

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French DTS Digital Surround 5.1; Spanish DTS Digital Surround 2.0;   
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 155 minutes
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 2, 2013
  • List Price: $24.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

 

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

title

Cinematic depictions of real people are relatively common film fare but precious few rise to the top of the heap. Hemingway and Gellhorn covers the stormy emotional and physical relationship between famed writer Ernest Hemingway and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. This high profile couple met, copulated, married, and eventually divorced after several years of domestic combat. The first Hemingway and Gellhorn encounter takes place in a Florida Keys bar where “Papa” is celebrating the catch of an enormous marlin. H & G cross paths again in war-torn Spain during the anti-Fascist uprising, and sparks begin to fly. This film reaches its literal and figurative climax during a torrid sex scene in the midst of an aerial bomb attack on the hotel where the lovers have taken up residence. Later, the newlyweds honeymoon in China during WW II and drag Chang Kai-Shek and Chou En-Lai into the story, a nice Indiana Jones touch.  By the film’s denouement, the proverbial bloom has gone off the rose, Hem has found a new woman and “Marty” has had enough.  To put the final touch on this often depressing tale of booze, sex, and more booze, we see an old Papa Hemingway about to put a shotgun to his head.

HBO Home Entertainment produced this film for cable TV and populated it with an excellent cast including Clive Owen (“Papa” Hemingway), Nicole Kidman (Gellhorn), David Straithairn (John Dos Passos), Diane Baker (Mrs. Gellhorn), Tony Shaloub (Mikhail Koltsov), and Robert Duvall (General Petrov). So much for the good news. For the rest of the proceedings, the news is not as good. This is a lengthy film that spends far too much time on the Spanish Civil War and not enough time on character development. Further, given that both of the principal characters were literary animals, the spoken dialogue is surprisingly trite. In Gellhorn’s own words, “…but love, I’m a war correspondent. Of course there are wars and there are wars,” or in Hemingway’s, “Let me tell you about writers, the best ones are all liars.”

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

kid3

The decision to intersperse deliberately grainy period shots with present day images becomes tiresome and appears to be a completely unnecessary decision to create a sense of the film’s period. The high definition aspects of the film are excellent.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

duval

Capture of the occasional musical selection and nonstop dialogue is evocative and crystal clear. Surround effects in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are minimal.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

type

There is a short list of additional material

  • Behind the Visual Effects: the cast and crew discuss the visual effects and their impact on the film
  • Making Hemingway and Gellhorn: a detailed view of the backstage creation of scenes, costumes, and crew.
  • Audio commentary with director Philip Kaufman and editor Walter Murch

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

kiss

This film got mixed reviews on its initial release, understandably so, due to its length, lack of dramatic tension, somewhat stodgy and hackneyed dialogue, and many distractions from the main theme of the H&G relationship.  As noted earlier, the mixture of period and contemporary visual quality is a gimmick that does not wear well. Aside from the intermittent raw sex scenes, there is an intense personal story that is taking place. Unfortunately, it is overwhelmed by an obvious effort to suggest an epic scope where a more intimate approach would have been warranted. Owen does create a Hemingway-like persona but I could never buy into Kidman’s take on Gellhorn who, by all accounts, was just as crusty and a tough cookie to boot. Given the many times that I would have loved to have seen better direction, script, and editing, I was all the more disappointed by this film’s shortcomings in these critical areas.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Hemingway & Gellhorn - Fullscreen AC3 - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Hemingway & Gellhorn on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

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 singer

old gell

old

hotel

china

foxhole

[amazon-product]B0041KKZIW[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Hemingway & Gellhorn - Fullscreen AC3 - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Hemingway & Gellhorn on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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