Friday, April 02, 2021

Hemingway 1–3 (2021)


"A smiling Hemingway and his three sons in Bimini after a rare four-marlin day. Photo: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston ." Photo and caption: Anglers Journal: "Fighting Big Fish with Ernest Hemingway", 25 March 2019.

Hemingway : A Writer (1899–1929)
Hemingway : The Avatar (1929–1944)
Hemingway : The Blank Page (1944–1961)
    US 2021. PC: Florentine Films / WETA (Washington, D.C.). P: Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick, Ken Burns. Co-P: Salimah El-Amin, Lucas Frank. Assoc P: Vanessa Gonzalez-Block, Jonah Velasco. A
    D: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick. SC: Geoffrey C. Ward. M: Johnny Gandelsman. Add M: David Cieri. Soundtrack selections: J. S. Bach.
    Narrator: Peter Coyote
    Voice actors: Jeff Daniels (Hemingway)
    Meryl Streep (Hadley Richardson)
    Keri Russell (Pauline Pfeiffer)
    Mary Louise Parker (Martha Gellhorn)
    Patricia Clarkson (Mary Welsh Hemingway)
    With Patrick Hemingway (son of Ernest Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer).
    With writers: Stephen Cushman, Paul Hendrickson, Mary Karr, Michael Katakis, Akiko Manabe, Edna O’Brien, Tim O'Brien, Leonardo Padura, Amanda Vaill, Mario Vargas Llosa, Abraham Verghese, Tobias Wolff.
    With biographers and scholars: Susan Beegel, Mary Dearborn, Marc Dudley, Verna Kale, Miriam B. Mandel.
    With Senator John McCain.
    With psychiatrist Andrew Farah.
    Archival: Sylvia Beach, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, A. E. Hotchner.
    "The filmmakers were granted unusually open access to the treasure trove of Hemingway’s manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks and photographs housed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston" (Production information).
    6 hours
    Premiere: 5-7 April, 2021 PBS.
    Florentine Films screener viewed on a 4K tv set at home in Lappeenranta, 17–21 Jan 2021.

PBS advance publicity:
HEMINGWAY : A Writer (1899–1929)
"Hemingway, yearning for adventure, volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I. He marries Hadley Richardson and moves to Paris, publishes The Sun Also Rises and finds critical and commercial success with his second novel, A Farewell to Arms."

HEMINGWAY : The Avatar (1929–1944)
"Hemingway, having achieved a level of fame rarely seen in the literary world, settles in Key West with Pauline Pfeiffer but can’t stay put for long. He reports on the Spanish Civil War and begins a tempestuous romance with Martha Gellhorn."

HEMINGWAY : The Blank Page (1944–1961)
"Hemingway follows the Army as they advance through Europe. Afterwards, he tries to start a life with Mary Welsh, but is beset with tragedies. He publishes The Old Man and the Sea to acclaim but is overcome by his declining mental condition." (PBS advance publicity)

AA: The American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) is one of the most recognizable personalities in the history of world culture, and his life and legend have been covered in countless books, articles and programs.

The publications have been myth-making, and during the last decades often myth-breaking. The Hemingway film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and written by Geoffrey C. Ward represents the most distinguished trend in current biographical research.

Beyond hagiography and the "dark side of the genius" discourses, the perspective is wider and higher. We are invited into a quest to make sense of a man who was more than the sum of his contradictions.

I like the intelligent and emotionally mature approach. During the last decades, the genre of the portrait documentary has mushroomed in biography channels, dvd bonus materials and streaming services. Many are quality productions, but some suffer from dramaturgical clichés, facile soundbites and clip predictability.

This portrait is different. Ken Burns, the master of the rostrum camera, is at it again with huge Hemingway archives of photographs, home movies and documents to which the producers had privileged access. This treasure trove is subjected to the Ken Burns effect (familiar to art documentary aficionados also from the works of Luciano Emmer and Alain Resnais). The result is a richly visual moving picture experience.

The film-makers had in extenso access also to Hemingway's manuscripts, both hand-written and typewritten, and they apply the Ken Burns effect to them, too. We get a special insight into Hemingway's writing processes via illuminated and animated manuscript pages.

We get rare glimpses into Hemingway's mind as he follows his daily discipline and transforms experiences into thoughts and thoughts into words. The film-makers' approach has an affinity with Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet's Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach: by hearing the original works and seeing the authentic artifacts we enter an inside track in an approach that has parallels with Materialästhetik.

The Bach association is also relevant because the soundtrack consists largely of Bach, a composer in whose polyphonic structures Hemingway found an inspiration to his own "grace under pressure" approach.

I love also the way in which original book and magazine layouts, cover art and illustrations have been integrated into this portrait of the homme de lettres.

New in this project is the double perspective – equal emphasis is given to the female look in a saga of an alpha male. The film's testimonies do not support the allegiation that Hemingway was a misogynist, on the contrary. There is an eye-opening close reading of his first short story, "Up in Michigan". The empathic account of a woman's first sexual experience was considered too daring at the time.

Hemingway's four wives are prominent in the narrative, their words voiced by Meryl Streep (Hadley Richardson), Keri Russell (Pauline Pfeiffer), Mary Louise Parker (Martha Gellhorn) and Patricia Clarkson (Mary Welsh Hemingway). Among the most moving testimonies is the real-life farewell letter of the Red Cross nurse Agnes von Kurowsky who was the model for Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms. The double perspective changes the way we view Hemingway. There are affinities in this double perspective approach with recent high profile documentaries such as Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) and Aalto (2020).

Received ideas about Hemingway's conservative macho sexuality were dealt a blow when his novel The Garden of Eden was published posthumously in 1986. Hemingway was ahead of his time in discussing gender diversity and intersex.

The art of the close-up is cultivated in the interviews made for the movie. The witnesses and the commentators, from Edna O'Brien to John McCain, get enough space to have their voice heard and their presence felt. This is the opposite of the soundbite approach.

We learn that Hemingway was not just a man's man. He loved being in love with women. But he definitely was a writer's writer who has inspired countless young colleagues. A beautiful vignette is devoted to J. D. Salinger who met Hemingway in the liberated Paris in 1944.

Hemingway was famous since the beginning for his "iceberg theory" as a writer, of lasting value for writers and film-makers. It does not diminish him to observe that the same theory was already essential for Chekhov. Simplicity was the greatest art for both. It is also the hardest art.

"My only hero is the truth" said Tolstoy in the Sevastopol Tales, inspired by Thucydides, and the same ethos inspired Hemingway, although he could not always resist the temptation of the tall tale.

The motto also applies to this deeply felt documentary.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: PRESS INFORMATION:
BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: PRESS INFORMATION:

SYNOPSIS:

"Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s HEMINGWAY to Premiere April 5, 2021 on PBS
Three-Part, Six-Hour Film Series Explores the Life and Work of the Legendary Writer and His Enduring Influence on Literature and Culture
"

HEMINGWAY
"Hemingway, a three-part, six-hour documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, examines the visionary work and the turbulent life of Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest and most influential writers America has ever produced. Interweaving his eventful biography -- a life lived at the ultimately treacherous nexus of art, fame, and celebrity -- with carefully selected excerpts from his iconic short stories, novels, and non-fiction, the series reveals the brilliant, ambitious, charismatic, and complicated man behind the myth, and the art he created. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns. Hemingway is slated for broadcast on PBS in April 2021."

HEMINGWAY : A Writer (1899-1929)
Premieres Monday, April 5, 2021, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET
"Hemingway, yearning for adventure, volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I. He marries Hadley Richardson and moves to Paris, publishes The Sun Also Rises and finds critical and commercial success with his second novel, A Farewell to Arms."

HEMINGWAY : The Avatar (1929-1944)
Premieres Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET
"Hemingway, having achieved a level of fame rarely seen in the literary world, settles in Key West with Pauline Pfeiffer but can’t stay put for long. He reports on the Spanish Civil War and begins a tempestuous romance with Martha Gellhorn."

HEMINGWAY : The Blank Page (1944-1961)
Premieres Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET
"Hemingway follows the Army as they advance through Europe. Afterwards, he tries to start a life with Mary Welsh, but is beset with tragedies. He publishes The Old Man and the Sea to acclaim but is overcome by his declining mental condition."

Voice Actors Include Jeff Daniels as Hemingway; Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson as Hemingway’s Four Wives

Ernest Hemingway on the fishing boat Anita circa 1929. Courtesy of Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Arlington, VA – September 10, 2020 – Ernest Hemingway, the iconic literary figure considered one of the greatest American writers and among the first to live and work at the treacherous nexus of art and celebrity, is the subject of an upcoming three-part, six-hour documentary series directed by award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (THE VIETNAM WAR, PROHIBITION, THE WAR) coming to PBS April 5-7, 2021 at 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). A trailer for the series is available here<https://www.pbs.org/video/ken-burns-hemingway-look-ahead/>.

The documentary paints an intimate picture of Hemingway the writer — who captured on paper the complexities of the human condition in spare and profound prose, and whose work remains deeply influential around the world — while also penetrating the myth of Hemingway the man’s man to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure. The film also explores Hemingway’s limitations and biases as an artist and a man of his time.

HEMINGWAY was written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein. The film was co-produced by Salimah El-Amin and Lucas Frank and associated produced by Vanessa Gonzalez-Block and Jonah Velasco. HEMINGWAY interweaves a close study of the biographical events of the author’s life with excerpts from his fiction, non-fiction and short stories, informed by interviews with celebrated writers, scholars and Hemingway’s son, Patrick. The filmmakers explore the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most important works of fiction in American letters, including novels The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea; short stories “Hills Like White Elephants,” “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “Up in Michigan,” “Indian Camp”and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro;” as well as the nonfiction works Death in the Afternoon and A Moveable Feast.

“HEMINGWAY is both an intimate, turbulent family saga and an examination of some of the greatest works of American literature in the 20th century,” said director Ken Burns. “The documentary attempts to show how flawed our assumptions about Ernest Hemingway and his writing have been. At the same time, we are unsparing in our inquiry into less well-known aspects of his character and writing. Our intent is to offer viewers an honest portrayal of a complex and conflicted writer who left an indelible mark on literature.”

“In an era when Americans are re-evaluating so many icons, Hemingway is a particularly compelling figure to revisit," said director Lynn Novick. "He was hugely complicated, deeply flawed, and he truly revolutionized the art of writing. One of the great revelations of this project was asking renowned writers from around the world — Mario Vargas Llosa, Edna O’Brien, Abraham Verghese, Leonardo Padura, Mary Karr — to share their insights into Hemingway's work and why it’s still important today.”

“One of the great challenges of this project,” said producer Sarah Botstein, “was finding ways — visually, cinematically — to show how Hemingway honed his craft and how he used words to such extraordinary effect. In collaboration with our editors, we deployed all the tools in our filmmaking toolbox — graphic effects, archival footage and photographs, live cinematography, sound effects — to make Hemingway’s work come fully alive on screen.”

“While many of us studied Ernest Hemingway in school, the true significance of his work was perhaps never fully appreciated. Through this extraordinary film, Ken, Lynn and Sarah have shed new light on the contributions and complexity of one of America’s most influential writers,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS. “Public television continues to be a destination for thoughtful and thought-provoking biographies, and we are uniquely positioned to bring these important stories into the classroom through PBS LearningMedia.”

Ernest Hemingway “loved being in love,” the writer Michael Katakis says in the film. He married four times over the course of his tumultuous life and had three sons. His relationships with women — his mother, sisters, wives and the World War I nurse who broke his heart — profoundly affected his work. Yet for all his bravado and hyper-masculine posturing, Hemingway wrote about relationships between men and women with sensitivity, nuance and clarity. As writer Edna O’Brien says on camera, he was able to put himself “inside the skin” of the other and give voice to women’s deepest emotions.

Narrated by long-time collaborator Peter Coyote, the series features an all-star cast of actors bringing Hemingway (voiced by Jeff Daniels), his friends and family vividly to life. Through letters to and from his four wives — voiced by Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson — the film reveals Hemingway at his most romantic and his most vulnerable, grappling at times with insecurity, anxiety and existential loneliness.

 “I’ve always admired Hemingway’s writing,” said Daniels. “The power of his simplicity changed literature. Reading his published work along with his unpublished letters gave me new insight into his impact as an artist and the ultimate tragedy of his life.”

In three two-hour episodes, HEMINGWAY tracks the meteoric rise and tragic fall of the author who, in his final years, suffered from chronic alcoholism, serious mental illness, traumatic brain injuries and depression. In 1961, at the age of 61, Hemingway died by suicide, leaving behind an unparalleled body of artistic work and a complicated emotional legacy for those closest to him.

The filmmakers were granted unusually open access to the treasure trove of Hemingway’s manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks and photographs housed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Interviews with renowned biographers and scholars, including Mary Dearborn and Marc Dudley, shed new light on the man and his work; and well-known writers around the world — including Edna O’Brien, Abraham Verghese, Mario Vargas Llosa, Mary Karr, Tim O’Brien, Akiko Manabe,  Leonardo Padura and Tobias Wolff — deepen the film’s exploration of Hemingway’s oeuvre. It also includes moving commentary from Hemingway’s surviving son, Patrick, and from the late Senator John McCain, whose lifelong role model was not Hemingway, but Robert Jordan, the protagonist of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

HEMINGWAY is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, written by Geoffrey C. Ward, and produced by Burns, Novick and Sarah Botstein. The film was co-produced by Salimah El-Amin and Lucas Frank and associated produced by Vanessa Gonzalez-Block and Jonah Velasco. Original music produced by Johnny Gandelsmen, with additional music created by longtime Florentine collaborator David Cieri.

Corporate funding for HEMINGWAY was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by the Annenberg Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and by ‘The Better Angels Society,’ and its members John & Leslie McQuown, the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust, John & Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Kissick Family Foundation, Gail M. Elden, Gilchrist & Amy Berg, Robert & Beverly Grappone, Mauree Jane & Mark Perry; and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.FROM KENBURNS.COM

Hemingway
A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

"Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s three-part, six-hour documentary series, HEMINGWAY, examines the visionary work and turbulent life of one of the greatest and most influential American writers – Ernest Hemingway. Intimate and insightful, the series weaves together Hemingway’s biography with excerpts from his fiction, non-fiction and personal correspondence – a structure that nods to Hemingway’s own creative process of drawing inspiration from lived experience. The film penetrates the mythology surrounding Hemingway – cultivated by his larger than life exploits, public bravado, and occasional tall-tale – to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure. His story is told with the help of interviews with literary scholars, celebrated writers including Edna O’Brien, Mario Vargas Llosa, Abraham Verghese, and Tobias Wolff, and Hemingway’s son, Patrick. Six years in the making, HEMINGWAY is a treasure trove of rarely seen photographs and archival footage. The film is further benefitted by unprecedented access to original manuscripts that show the painstaking process by which Hemingway created some of the most important works of fiction in American letters, including the novels, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea; short stories “Hills Like White Elephants,” “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber,”“Up in Michigan,” “Indian Camp”and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro;” as well as nonfiction works, Death in the Afternoon and A Moveable Feast.  Hemingway’s words are brought vividly to life by Jeff Daniels. Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Patricia Clarkson, and Mary-Louise Parker read the voices of Hemingway’s four wives. Original music is provided by Johnny Gandelsman and David Cieri."

Hemingway premieres April 5-7 on PBS. (6 hours)

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