The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: HBO - 2012
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 155 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, David Strathairn, Tony Shaloub, Parker Posey, Molly Parker, Peter Coyote, Joan Chen, Rodrigo Santoro, Robert Duvall
Directed by: Philip Kaufman
Music by: Javier Navarrete
Written by: Jerry Stahl & Barbara Turner
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 2, 2013
Hemingway & Gellhorn recounts one of the greatest romances of the last century - the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and the beautiful, trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn - as it follows the adventurous writers through the Spanish Civil War and beyond. As witnesses to history, they covered all the great conflicts of their time; but the war they couldn’t survive was the one between themselves.
Hemingway & Gellhorn tells the story of the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage between Martha Gellhorn (Kidman) and Ernest Hemingway (Owen), following the adventurous writers through all the great conflicts of their time - from the Spanish Civil War and beyond. Considered by many to be the greatest of all war correspondents - man or woman - Gellhorn's drive and success catapulted her beyond the confines of her marriage into a revered and respected career independent of Hemingway's.
Epic in scale, the film interweaves archival footage (with members if the cast inserted) and varied cinematographic effects as an empowering backdrop that portrays the war torn venues and devastation witnessed by Hemingway & Gellhorn. Together they inspired one another and were at their best when working to bring the impact/suffering of war to the attention of the world. Unfortunately domestic life at home disagreed with them resulting in doldrums and misguided outlets for their passion. Their marriage didn’t survive but the legacy they shared lives on.
I found Hemingway & Gellhorn to be an interesting biopic in that I never heard of Martha Gellhorn let alone her marriage to Hemingway or incredible achievements as a war correspondent. It’s clearly a statement piece and focuses on the duality of its subject while capturing the essence of their passionate and tumultuous union. The script touches upon the variety of historic interactions/encounters the two had as well as their influence as a sort of “power couple”. Much of the relationships outside of their own are depicted in a skimpy fashion but support the thematic narrative well enough. The pacing is slow early on but not to a detrimental effect.
Kidman and Owen are rock solid and share excellent chemistry. The large supporting ensemble is filled with quality actors that contribute via small but important roles that lend credibility to the film. I enjoyed the cinematography and director Philip Kaufman’s passion for the material is quite obvious. The film does a good job staying on point in its conveyance of a glimpse at a powerful relationship born and torn by war.
The rating is for violence, language, sexual content and brief nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Hemingway & Gellhorn comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.
This film utilizes varied visual aesthetics in support of the filmmaker’s vision and includes an aged film effect (by using a layering process to introduce the appearance of print damage that comes in the form of speckles, scratches and running lines), black/white transitions, muted chroma, and green screen backgrounds containing archival footage used as a backdrop that members of the cast are inserted in. The visual effects are very good and work well within the thematic scope of the film. When these techniques aren’t employed the 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers appreciable high definition resolution that has a satisfying and transparent quality. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks are deep while exhibiting appreciable dynamic range with stable yet slightly elevated contrast that never infringes upon fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably tight, and punchy low end that rumbles with authority.
- Audio commentary with director Philip Kaufman and editor Walter Murch
- (HD) Behind the visual effects – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Making Hemingway & Gellhorn – 6 minute featurette
- Bonus DVD
Nominated for 15 Emmy Awards and 2 Golden Globes Hemingway & Gellhorn is an interesting biopic that paints a vivid portrait of the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and the beautiful, trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. It’s not a perfect film but it features excellent performances from leads Nicole Kidman/Clive Owen, apt direction from Philip Kaufman and intriguing use of cinematography. It comes to Blu-ray from HBO Films featuring excellent high definition audio/video and a middling supplemental package that consists of a pair of brief production features and filmmaker commentary. This Blu-ray offering is worth a rental especially if the subject matter is of interest.
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