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Film / Hemingway & Gellhorn

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"We were good in war. When there was no war, we made our own."

Hemingway & Gellhorn is a 2012 film from HBO following the tumultuous romance between Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) and Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman).

Gellhorn and Hemingway meet by chance in a bar in Key West. Intrigued by the young woman, Hemingway invites her to his home where his friends have gathered to screen an unfinished movie about The Spanish Civil War. Gellhorn becomes impassioned with the movement and signs up to leave for the front the next day. Hemingway (who had been content to fish, fight and drink in comfort) is compelled to follow himself. Once there, they begin one of the most bizarre and eventful love stories ever lived.


Provides Examples Of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: How Hemingway got his string of wives and lovers.
  • Amusing Injuries: Gellhorn's contraction of "The China Rot" makes her the butt of Hemingway's jokes until it heals.
  • Anachronism Stew: What in the name of Tanks, But No Tanks is a T-34/85 doing in Spansih Civil War era Madrid?
  • Animal Motifs: The swordfish. Hemingway lets one escape after Gellhorn leaves him. She's "the one that got away."
    "I'm not dead yet, you fuck."
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: In what was probably the most over the top example ever to grace history.
  • Bookends: Hemingway fishing.
  • Brick Joke: In Spain, Gellhorn sees a billboard for the film version of A Farewell to Arms. She comments that Helen Hayes was miscast. Hemingway takes exception to her criticism. In China, Chou En-lai mentions he saw the movie and makes the same assessment. Gellhorn gives Hemingway a smug look and remarks that she had the same opinion.
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  • Bullying a Dragon: Gellhorn accuses the Empress of China of letting her people starve and using children as slave labor to her face.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Pauline, but seeing as how she lost Hemingway to Gellhorn (and she knows he left his previous wife, Hadley, for her), she had a reason to worry.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gellhorn becomes one. She continues covering conflicts as she ages. At the end of the film, she's so ticked off that the interviewer suggested she owed her career to Hemingway, she reconsiders an offer to cover a war and heads out the door.
  • Country Matters: Hemingway calls Gellhorn this once.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Hemingway plays Russian roulette because someone asks Gellhorn to dance (before they are ever together) and freaks out that Gellhorn wants to "fuck" Chinese communist leader Chou En-lai because she called him entrancing.
  • Double Agent: Ma
    Hemingway: Mr. Ma! Just whose side are you on?
    Ma: There are no sides. Only the past and the future.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hemingway.
  • Fanservice: Nicole Kidman rises to the occasion yet again. (As does Clive Owen.) There's also a scene when Hemingway and Gellhorn go into a dancers' changing room to hook up, hide when the dancers come in... and watch them change.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Hemingway commits suicide.
  • Foreshadowing: Hemingway's fate is hinted at with a fight in Spain that has him pointing a gun at his own head, and an aside from Pauline about shooting himself over hunting. Hemingway also comments that any writer who crumples his pages will be insane within a year.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Hemingway and Gellhorn hook up when their hotel is being shelled.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Orson Welles is only briefly seen in silhouette or from the back.
  • Historical In-Joke: Hemingway fires Orson Welles from a narration gig.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Gellhorn. Hemingway even refers to her as "Intrepid" several times.
  • Last-Name Basis: Hemingway and Gellhorn refer to each other by their last names, even while married. They occasionally call each other by the nicknames "Hem" and "Marty."
  • My Church Right or Wrong: It's implied that Pauline Hemingway supports the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War because their side has the approval of the Spanish bishops.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Hemingway goes a bit off the deep end with this after he's accused of being a communist.
  • Pet the Dog: Hemingway comforting the dying soldier.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Hemingway is a massive sexist and homophobe. More or less the reason his marriage to Gelhorn dissolves; he expected her to submit to him and cater to his needs as his previous (and future) wives did, and she wouldn't have it.
  • Rated M for Manly: One thing Hemingway can't stand is an attack on his manhood.
  • Rebel Leader: Paco is handsome, young, and charismatic. The documentary is originally focused to make him into the face of the rebellion. Then the Russians make him an unperson and he is wiped from the film.
  • Red Scare: Because they predict that the communist movement will win out in China, Gellhorn and Hemingway are branded as possible communists. Hemingway doesn't take it well.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Hemingway's other wives are portrayed this way, suggesting that Gellhorn was his one true love. She was the only woman to ever divorce him.
  • Shown Their Work: According to the Director's Commentary, almost every line of dialogue comes from a recorded encounter, an autobiography, or a letter written by Hemingway or Gellhorn.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: In-Universe. Gellhorn gets very hostile at the suggestion that her whole career was due to Hemingway.
    "I do not consider my life a foot note to someone else's."
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Orson Welles to John Dos Passos.
    John Dos Passos (cheerfully): Hi, Orson!
    Orson Welles (also cheerfully): Hi, John! I quit!
  • While Rome Burns: Hemingway and Gellhorn make love for the first time as their hotel is being shelled. The plaster from the ceiling falls in on them and they only pause momentarily before continuing as if nothing had happened.