Finca Vigia: Exploring the Hemingway House in Cuba
Hemingway & Gelhorn, which previewed on HBO last night, offers 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).
The film chronicles the pair from their meeting in Key West in 1936 to their travels to Spain during the Spanish American War, and it includes their subsequent romance and marriage (Hemingway’s third) in 1940.
A war correspondent, Gelhorn followed the action wherever she could reach it, and the couple’s frequent periods of separation only fueled the jealousy and rivalry that would ultimately end their 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. It was a house he retained until 1960.
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: