Friday, May 25, 2012

Martha Gellhorn, in her own words

My, what a sexy couple!
Gellhorn mania is going to erupt come Monday, when the HBO film on her and Hemingway's wartime exploits debuts. You can get up to speed on this singular writer/reporter/globe trotter with Travels With Myself and Another: A Memoir and Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn—both bargains, of course. Gellhorn also wrote fiction: Knopf did a volume of her novellas a while back, and Virago issued Liana. Well worth searching for.
I know DG readers admire the brilliant and intrepid Gellhorn because of the response to a previous post. So I hope we can discuss the film, which looks good from the previews and is taken from her memoirs. (It was also a Cannes Film Festival selection.) This Wall Street Journal article has a good preview analysis with some background.
Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen in HBO's 'Hemingway & Gellhorn.'
In 1983, a British TV interviewer posed this loaded question to Gellhorn, then 75 and still gorgeous: "I.F. Stone once described governments as comprised entirely of liars and nothing they say should ever be believed."
The response was a typical no-holds-barred Gellhorn opinion: "Quite right. And Tolstoy once said governments are a collection of men who do violence to the rest of us. Between Izzy Stone and Tolstoy, you've got it about right."
Gellhorn felt her duty as a journalist was to bear witness. She told stories not of generals and politicians, but of powerless people — the victims of war. Biographer Caroline Moorehead says that for Gellhorn, it was less a job than a calling.
"I think she felt all she really could do was write," Moorehead says. "It was all she knew how to do. And she was still feeling that in her 80s. And since nobody else seemed to be writing — to her — about the children and napalm in Vietnam, then even though she was getting on and she wasn't accredited to a newspaper, well, then, she'd go and write about it." [via NPR: Power Couple, Covering War and Waging Their Own, by Susan Stamburg]


  1. Cornelius LoomisMay 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Interesting casting choice for Hemingway. Never would have called that one. Anyway, Gellhorn was quite overt and stark - very powerful voice.

  2. Fiddlesticks! I've got till 9PM on Monday to get cable! (And on a holiday weekend to boot)!

  3. Interesting casting choice... I would never have thought of Nicole Kidman, but then again I wouldn't have picked Julianne Moore to play Sarah Palin either. HBO can sure work that makeup magic!

  4. HBO original movies are the best I can' wait to see this i really wanna pick up her memoir before i see it. Nicole Kidman looks like she is going to do a great job portraying Gellhorn.

  5. I would definitely pick a different actor for Hemingway, but I think Kidman will be great. Too bad I cancelled HBO!