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Hemingway, Ken Burns’ latest PBS documentary series and company, has several names attached that have become kind of a reference set. Lynn Novick, Burns’ frequent co-director, is back. So is writer Geoffrey C. Ward, who helped make Burns a feature on a TV show through the non-fiction mini-series. Civil war. The narrator, who has lent his voice to several earlier productions, is Peter Coyote.
As always, Coyote quietly and clearly sets the table for everything to come – and why you might care. “The world saw him as a man,” Coyote says, quoting an early example. “But throughout his life, he was particularly fascinated by the blurred lines between males and females, men and women. There were many aspects to him, his four wives remembered, to the point that he defied engineering.”
In this new Hemingway Documentary, the women around the author enlighten as much as the author himself. Each of his four wives has something to say – and these husbands get voted by a quartet of gorgeous actresses, who bring women’s private messages and other writing to life.
Meryl Streep She has a bigger role as war reporter Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife. Its expeditions competed during the conquest of Normandy, and arguably surpassed them. But the other wives got voted by Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker And Patricia Clarkson. He provides Geoff Daniels with the voice of Ernest Hemingway, and reads from his own letters as well as his published short stories and other writing.
There is a lot to deal with about Hemingway. Professionally, there is the way he wrote, what he wrote, and the influence his writing had on modern literature. Personally, there are relationships with women, misogyny, alcoholism, and depression – all of which found their way into his stories, too.
This new PBS biography isn’t ashamed of any of it. He does not avoid or excuse Hemingway’s excesses, betrayals, and failures. Instead, it enhances our understanding of the man by digging deeply into both his life and his writings. And whenever Hemingway’s Daniels read, like Hemingway, he would do so in a simple, unadorned tone like that of a writer’s prose.
Not only do Burns and Novick bring literary moments to life, using appropriate sounds, images, and sounds, but they also delve into Hemingway’s complex personal life: his father’s suicide. It was raised by his mother, who dressed him up as daughters and encouraged his imagination. His experiences in many wars, finding glory in masculine activities such as hunting and fishing in the deep sea and attending bullfights. From Paris to Spain, from Key West to Cuba, Ernest Hemingway lived in strange places during turbulent times – and he wrote about it all.
Everything you already know, or don’t know, about Ernest Hemingway, his work – and his life – the new documentary on PBS Hemingway It is sure to add more to that cognitive body. And it’s very likely to make you re-evaluate a lot of it. A literary biography of Ken Burns and his company, Hemingway Better than their previous Mark Twain documentary. And my praise levels don’t get much higher.