Hemingway & Gelhorn, which previewed on HBO last night offered an extraordinary look at the literary careers, passionate love affair and tumultuous relationship between Ernest Hemingway (played by Clive Owen) and Martha Gelhorn (played by Nicole Kidman), considered by many to be the greatest war correspondent of the 20th century.
The film chronicles the pair from their meeting in Key West in 1936 to their travels to Spain during the Spanish American War and their subsequent romance and marriage (Hemingway’s third) in 1940. Martha’s drive to follow the war wherever she could reach it and frequent periods of separation, only fueled the jealousy and underlying rivalry that would ultimately end the marriage four years later.
The film does make reference to a Cuban retreat that Ernest and Martha occupied on and off during their years together. While it does not show the actual house, it is modeled on one that Hemingway himself purchased in 1939 after selling the film rights to his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and retained until 1960.
The house–Finca Vigia–is a rambling masonry home that sits perched on a 12-acre hillside outside of Havana. When the property was in danger of destruction–from heat, humidity, pests, and the sheer passage of time, an American non-profit, The Finca Vigia Foundaton–co-chaired by Bob Vila, was established to work with the Cuban government to save the home from ruin.
Today, the estate is an internationally recognized museum full of Hemingway’s belongings and his numerous, fascinating collections (guns, typewriters, fishing rods, paintings and, of course, books). Here’s a glimpse inside the house today:
You can watch a trailer of the HBO movie–Hemingway & Gelhorn–below: