Hemingway & Gellhorn

Hemingway & Gellhorn is a 2012 television film directed by Philip Kaufman about the lives of journalist Martha Gellhorn and her husband, writer Ernest Hemingway. The film premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and aired on HBO on May 28, 2012.[2]

Hemingway & Gellhorn
Hemingway & Gellhorn poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed byPhilip Kaufman
Written byJerry Stahl
Barbara Turner
Produced byPeter Kaufman
Trish Hoffman
James Gandolfini
Alexandra Ryan
Barbara Turner
StarringNicole Kidman
Clive Owen
CinematographyRogier Stoffers
Edited byWalter Murch
Music byJavier Navarrete
Release dates
  • May 25, 2012 (2012-05-25) (Cannes)
  • May 28, 2012 (2012-05-28) (United States)
Running time
154 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million[1]


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

They encounter one another once 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 Hemingway, but during a bombing raid, the two find themselves trapped alone in the same room, and they are overcome by lust. 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.[3] He credits her with having inspired him to write the novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and dedicates the work to her.[4]

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.[3]



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."[5] 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.[6]


The film received mixed reviews with much praise going for Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Martha Gellhorn.[7][8] 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."[9] 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."[10] 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.[11] Odie Henderson, writing for Roger Ebert.com, praised both actors performances while lauding the film's throwback feeling of romance. "The actors are first-rate, down to the supporting roles...This is Kidman's best work in years, smart, brassy, funny, sexy and tough. She brings her A-game because Owen's showier role must be legendary, a larger than life evocation of masculinity suited for the name Hemingway. Cinematographer Rogier Stoffers introduces Owen in a desaturated fishing sequence that culminates in an explosion of bright red blood. Owen's Hemingway grabs the bull by the horns, resisting cliché just barely enough to feel the breath of caricature on his neck. His Russian Roulette pissing contest with an uncredited, equally macho and over the top Robert Duvall is a highlight of the film. Anyone with a romantic appreciation of the male gender will swoon at Owen's constantly revealed chest hair. Everyone else can worship, as Kaufman's camera does, at the altar of Kidman's lower body, with its "legs that start at her shoulders."[12]

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."[13] 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."[14] 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."[15] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 49% score based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 5.33/10.[16]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Motion Picture or Miniseries Hemingway & Gellhorn Nominated [17]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nicole Kidman Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries David Strathairn Nominated
Best Direction of a Motion Picture or Miniseries Philip Kaufman Nominated
Best Cinematography in a Non-Series Hemingway & Gellhorn Nominated
Best Costume Design in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Makeup/Hairstyling in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Production Design in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Visual Effects in a Non-Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Peter Kaufman, Trish Hofmann, James Gandolfini,
Alexandra E. Ryan, Barbara Turner, Nancy Sanders,
and Mark Armstrong
Nominated [18]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Clive Owen Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Nicole Kidman Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie David Strathairn Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Philip Kaufman Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie Geoffrey Kirkland, Nanci Noblett, and Jim Erickson Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie Rogier Stoffers Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Ruth Myers and Adina Bucur Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie Yvette Rivas and Frances Mathias Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Gretchen Davis, Kyra Panchenko, and Paul Pattison Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score) Javier Navarrete Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie Walter Murch Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Douglas Murray, Peter Horner, Kim Foscato,
Steve Boeddeker, Casey Langfelder, Andrea Gard,
Pat Jackson, Daniel Laurie, Goro Koyama, Andy Malcolm,
and Joanie Diener
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie Nelson Stoll, Lora Hirschberg, Peter Horner, and
Douglas Murray
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role Chris Morley, Kip Larsen, Nathan Abbot, and Chris Paizis Nominated
Satellite Awards Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Hemingway & Gellhorn Nominated [19]
Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Clive Owen Nominated
Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Nicole Kidman Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials Hemingway & Gellhorn Nominated [20]
Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Theatrically Unreleased Movie by or About Women Won [21]
Women's Image Network Awards Actress Made for Television Movie Nicole Kidman Won
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television Walter Murch Won [22]
American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Motion Picture/Miniseries Rogier Stoffers Nominated [23]
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design Award – Television Movie or Mini-Series Geoffrey Kirkland, Nanci Noblett, William Beck,
Gerard Howland, and Jim Erickson
Nominated [24]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movies and Mini-Series Nelson Stoll, Lora Hirschberg, Pete Horner, Douglas Murray,
Marc Blanes Matas, Andy Greenberg, and Don White
Nominated [25]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie or Miniseries Ruth Myers Nominated [26]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Miniseries Philip Kaufman Nominated [27]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Clive Owen Nominated [28]
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film Nicole Kidman Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – Long Form Music in Television Joanie Diener Won [29]
Best Sound Editing – Long Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television Douglas Murray, Pete Horner, Kim Foscato,
Steve Boeddeker, Andrea Gard, Pat Jackson,
Casey Langfelder, Goro Koyama, and Andy Malcolm
Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Best Music Supervision for Television Long Form and Movie Evyen Klean Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Clive Owen Nominated [30]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nicole Kidman Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program Nathan Abbot, Kip Larsen, Chris Morley, and Chris Paizis Nominated [31]
Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program Nathan Abbot, Shelley Campbell, Chris Morley, and
Chris Paizis
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Original Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner Nominated [32]


  1. ^ "Film Studios Bypass San Francisco". wsj.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "HBO/Cinemax 2011/2012 Programming Overview". The Futon Critic. July 28, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "A Spanish romance". The Olive Press. December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  4. ^ Hemingway, Ernest (1940). For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. vii. This book is for MARTHA GELLHORN.
  5. ^ Buzz, Gator. "A Sound Education". SF State Magazine. Archived from the original on May 4, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
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  10. ^ Heilman, Jeremy (June 11, 2012). "Hemingway & Gellhorn (Philip Kaufman, 2012)". MovieMartyr.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  11. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 25, 2012). "Hemingway & Gellhorn: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Henderson, Odie. "Hemingway & Gellhorn: Corny and canny | TV/Streaming | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com/. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Hale, Mike (27 May 2012). "Literary Lions Stalk Each Other Through Wars and Across the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  14. ^ Wolcott, James (23 December 2014). "No Time for Tulips: On Hemingway & Gellhorn". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  17. ^ "16th Annual TV Awards (2011-12)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  18. ^ "Hemingway & Gellhorn". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "2012 Satellite Awards". Satellite Awards. International Press Academy. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  20. ^ "The Television Critics Association Announces 2012 TCA Award Nominees". Television Critics Association. June 7, 2012. Archived from the original on August 18, 2012.
  21. ^ "Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2012". Women Film Critics Circle. December 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
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  25. ^ "Cinema Audio Society Nominations Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. 8 January 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  26. ^ "15th Costume Designers Guild Awards". Costume Designers Guild. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  27. ^ "65th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  28. ^ "Hemingway & Gellhorn – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  29. ^ "'Life Of Pi' Wins Pair of Sound Editors' Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  30. ^ "The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  31. ^ "11th Annual VES Awards". Visual Effects Society. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  32. ^ "Previous Nominees & Winners: 2012 Awards Winners". Writers Guild Awards. Archived from the original on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2014-05-07.

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