Hemingway & Gellhorn

Hemingway & Gellhorn is an HBO biopic film about the lives of journalist Martha Gellhorn and her husband, writer Ernest Hemingway. It was directed by Philip Kaufman, and first aired on HBO on May 28, 2012.[1]

Hemingway & Gellhorn
Official poster
Directed byPhilip Kaufman
Produced byPeter Kaufman
Trish Hoffman
James Gandolfini
Alexandra Ryan
Barbara Turner
Written byJerry Stahl
Barbara Turner
StarringNicole Kidman
Clive Owen
Music byJavier Navarrete
CinematographyRogier Stoffers
Edited byWalter Murch
Release date
  • May 25, 2012 (2012-05-25) (Cannes)
  • May 28, 2012 (2012-05-28) (United States)
Running time
154 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million


Telling the story of one of America’s most famous literary couples, the movie begins in 1936 when the pair meet for the first time in a chance encounter in a Key West bar in Florida.

They encounter each other again a year later in Spain, while both are covering the Spanish Civil War, and staying in the same hotel on the same floor. Initially, Gellhorn resists romantic advances made by the famous author, but during a bombing raid, the two find themselves trapped alone in the same room, and lust overcomes them. They become lovers, and stay in Spain until 1939. Hemingway collaborates with Joris Ivens to produce The Spanish Earth.

In 1940 Hemingway divorces his second wife so that he and Gellhorn can be married.[2] He credits her with having inspired him to write the novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and dedicates the work to her.[3]

Over time, however, Gellhorn becomes more prominent in her own right, leading to certain career jealousies between the two. Gellhorn leaves Hemingway to go to Finland to cover the Winter War by herself. When she returns to the Lookout Farm in Havana, Hemingway tells her that he has divorced Pauline.

The two marry and, together, travel to China to cover the bombing attacks by Japan. In China, they interview Chiang Kai-shek and his spouse. Gellhorn is horrified after visiting an opium den. Chiang Kai-shek is fighting the Chinese Communists and Japanese invaders. The two secretly visit Zhou Enlai. Gellhorn covered D-Day in Normandy. She reported on the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps.

Lastly, in 1945, Gellhorn became the only one of Hemingway's four wives to ask him for a divorce.[2]



Pat Jackson, the film's sound effects editor, said that the biggest challenge in doing sound for the film was "making the archival footage and the live-action footage shot locally appear seamless."[4] Much of the film was shot in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the abandoned 16th Street station in Oakland standing in for the Hotel Florida.[5]


The film received mixed reviews with much praise going for Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Martha Gellhorn.[6][7] Mark Rozeman of Paste commented "In terms of the acting, there’s little room for complaint. At 45, Kidman remains a fetching and powerful screen presence. Here, she captures Gellhorn’s idealistic, gung-ho leftism without making herself sound overly self-righteous" but was less positive about Clive Owen's role as Ernest Hemingway stating "While Owen easily embodies Hemingway’s extraordinary charisma (and certainly his legendary temper), his performance is often undermined by the British actor’s inability to hold his American accent."[8] Jeremy Heilman of MovieMartyr.com agreed with Roseman's opinions stating "Kidman is strong here as Martha Gellhorn, using her exceptional figure and old-fashioned movie star glamour to full effect" and that Owen's performance was "inconsistent, goofy one moment and strongly seductive the next."[9] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Kidman is terrific in certain scenes and merely very good in others; there are a few too many moments of her traipsing around Spain, blond hair flying glamorously, not knowing quite what she’s doing there. But for the most part, she rivets one’s attention, lifting the entire enterprise by her presence.[10]

The New York Times panned the film, characterizing it as "a disheartening misfire: a big, bland historical melodrama built on platitudes about honor and the writing life that crams in actual figures and incidents but does little to illuminate them, or to make us care about the romance at its center."[11] In a similar vein Vanity Fair observed that "none of the reviews quite prepared me for the unchained malady of Hemingway & Gellhorn." Of the director they say "it’s as if Kaufman answered the call of wild and it turned out to be a loon."[12] The Huffington Post described it as "a gigantic missed opportunity, a jaw-droppingly trying waste of time. Don't let the fancy names in the cast fool you: This is a stupid, stupid movie."[13] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 50% score based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10.[14]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
17th Satellite Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Clive Owen Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nicole Kidman Nominated
19th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Clive Owen Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nicole Kidman Nominated
28th TCA Awards Outstanding Movie, Miniseries, or Special Nominated
64th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie James Gandolfini, Alexandra E. Ryan, Barbara Turner, Peter Kaufman, Nancy Sanders, Trish Hofmann, and Mark Armstrong Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Clive Owen Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Nicole Kidman Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie David Strathairn Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Philip Kaufman Nominated
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Jim Erickson, Nanci Noblett, and Geoffrey Kirkland Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Rogier Stoffers Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Ruth Myers Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Frances Mathias and Yvette Rivas Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Kyra Panchenko, Gretchen Davis, and Paul Pattison Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score) Javier Navarrete Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Walter Murch Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Kim Foscato, Andy Malcolm, Casey Langfelder, Pete Horner, Joanie Diener, Goro Koyama, Steve Boeddeker, Pat Jackson, Douglas Murray, Andrea S. Gard, and Daniel Laurie Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Douglas Murray, Pete Horner, Lora Hirschberg, and Nelson Stoll Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Miniseries or Movie Nathan Abbot, Kip Larsen, Chris Morley, and Chris Paizis Nominated
70th Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Clive Owen Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nicole Kidman Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing – Television Film Philip Kaufman Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program Nathan Abbot, Kip Larsen, Chris Morley, Christopher Paizis Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program Nathan Abbot, Shelley Campbell, Chris Morley, Christopher Paizis Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award Long Form – Original Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner Nominated


  1. "HBO/Cinemax 2011/2012 Programming Overview". The Futon Critic. July 28, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  2. "A Spanish romance". The Olive Press. December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  3. Hemingway, Ernest (1940). For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. vii. This book is for MARTHA GELLHORN.
  4. Buzz, Gator. "A Sound Education". SF State Magazine. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  5. Whitlock, Cathy (December 31, 2011). "The Sets of Hemingway & Gellhorn". Architectural Digest.
  6. Wolcott, James (May 2012). "No Time for Tulips: On Hemingway & Gellhorn". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  7. Tucker, Ken (May 28, 2012). "'Hemingway and Gellhorn' review: The fun also rises?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  8. Rozeman, Mark (April 3, 2013). "Hemingway & Gellhorn". Paste. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  9. Heilman, Jeremy (June 11, 2012). "Hemingway & Gellhorn (Philip Kaufman, 2012)". MovieMartyr.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  10. McCarthy, Todd (May 25, 2012). "Hemingway & Gellhorn: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  11. Hale, Mike (27 May 2012). "Literary Lions Stalk Each Other Through Wars and Across the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  12. Wolcott, James (23 December 2014). "No Time for Tulips: On Hemingway & Gellhorn". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  13. Ryan, Maureen (25 May 2012). "'Hemingway And Gellhorn' On HBO Review: Nicole Kidman And Clive Owen's Crime Against TV". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  14. "Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
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