Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

Season 1
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s six-hour documentary series, HEMINGWAY, examines the visionary work and turbulent life of one of the greatest and most influential American writers – Ernest Hemingway. Intimate and insightful, the series weaves together Hemingway’s biography with excerpts from his work. The film penetrates the myth of Hemingway to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure.
Peter CoyoteJeff DanielsKeri Russell
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  1. 1. “A Writer” (1899-1929): Episode One
    April 5, 2021
    1 h 56 min
    English [CC], Español [CC]
    Audio languages
    English, Español
    Hemingway enjoys an idyllic childhood in Oak Park, Illinois but, yearning for adventure, volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I. He marries Hadley Richardson, moves to Paris and begins his life as a writer, publishing In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises. He finds critical and commercial success with his second novel, A Farewell to Arms.
  2. 2. “The Avatar” (1929-1944): Episode Two
    April 6, 2021
    1 h 45 min
    English [CC], Español [CC]
    Audio languages
    English, Español
    Hemingway, having achieved a level of fame rarely seen in the literary world, settles in Key West with Pauline Pfeiffer and spends his time seeking new conquests in the natural world – marlin fishing in the Gulf Stream and hunting in Africa. Inspired by the fight against Fascism, he reports on the Spanish Civil War and begins a tempestuous romance with Martha Gellhorn.
  3. 3. “The Blank Page” (1944-1961): Episode Three
    April 7, 2021
    1 h 43 min
    English [CC], Español [CC]
    Audio languages
    English, Español
    Hemingway, reeling from his split with Martha, attaches himself to the U.S. Army as it moves through Normandy and liberates Paris. After the war he tries to start a new life with Mary Welsh but is beset with personal tragedies and professional mishaps. He publishes The Old Man and the Sea and wins the Nobel Prize but eventually is overcome by addiction, physical trauma and depression.

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  1. Bonus: Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Trailer
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    March 23, 2021
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    Award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick explore the turbulent life of one of the greatest and most influential American authors, Ernest Hemingway. Featuring exclusive interviews, rare archival footage, and readings by Jeff Daniels (as Hemingway), Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, and more, the series brings the work and personal trials of this often misunderstood genius fully alive.

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Ken BurnsLynn Novick
Supporting actors
Patricia ClarksonDavid QuayMary-Louise ParkerOlivia GilliattMeryl StreepJoe MortonJosh LucasArlo Hill
Ken BurnsSarah BotsteinLynn Novick
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices


4.6 out of 5 stars

181 global ratings

  1. 79% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars

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Top reviews from the United States

Mindo'ermatterReviewed in the United States on April 17, 2021
3.0 out of 5 starsThe Deconstruction of Ernest Hemingway: A Tragic Nihilistic Film
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This is a tragedy in three parts. It is hauntingly depressing and seeks to replace Hemingway's mythical life with a revisionist myth -- darker, more absurd.

I recommend that this 6-hour, excruciatingly painful experience be viewed in small segments, so as not to overwhelm you with its disturbing melancholy and despair. I took10 days to review it, often taking side research trips to confirm stated facts and expressed opinions, more often than not finding larger portions of Hemingway's life and story neglected, ignored, or misconstrued.

Although I appreciated many new insights, details, photos, and interviews with those who knew him, I found the selective editing both provocative and unforgivingly and sensationally inhumane.

Many elements of Hemingway's unhappy life are portrayed well, illustrating effectively his loneliness and lifetime struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, and relationships: things that motivated his blunt and poignant writing that revealed the untold stories of his generation.

My disappointment in this documentary comes with its judgmental and scornful devaluation of another human being for some ulterior motives, unclear and with projected tones of intellectual dishonesty.

Without question, the creators of this work skillfully presented their story and evidentiary exhibits in a way designed solely to arrive at the conclusions they desired. However, the real story likely remains their true motives and objectives for making this project, using their selections and interpretations.

This exposé is an example of something we should all fear that anyone might do to our own life or the lives of others whom we hold dear. Perhaps it's focus on the negative elements of a person's life without equal treatment to their contributions that often came with great personal cost or sacrifice unfairly devalues the whole context of any human life. All have flaws; all make mistakes; all face challenges known to only themselves.

Perhaps the most important question to ask about this documentary is Cui bono? (Who stands to benefit?)
19 people found this helpful
HE WHO FUNKS BEHIND THE ROWS!!Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsGenius, Insanity, Narcissistic---Hemingway Was All That & More!
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Ken Burns & Co. Strikes Again
With Another Compelling &
Well Put Together Chronicle of
An Iconic Figure. Ernest Hemingway
was complex and had many nuances.
This doc captured the good, bad, ugly,
and the brilliance of the man.
Michelangelo AntonioniReviewed in the United States on May 6, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsInformative and lively biopic
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Ken Burns does it again! He assembles rare photos and footage of Hemingway and his wives, associates, friends and enemies to tell the story of the author's ups and downs. Bravo!
Thomas L EnseyReviewed in the United States on June 1, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsWell Done
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Like all of Ken Burns' stuff, this was an excellent production filled with information on an important figure in American literature and culture.
Andrea L CarrollReviewed in the United States on April 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsWonderfully informative & entertaining
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Wonderfully done. Very informative and beautifully presented. Now I'm searching for other Ken Burns documentaries.
Columbia1Reviewed in the United States on June 1, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsHemingway documentary enjoyable.
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Enjoyed this very much. Recommend it for watching. I learned things I didn't know about Hemingway.
MdcarrierReviewed in the United States on May 24, 2021
5.0 out of 5 starsPAPA LIKE NEVER BEFORE!
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As I BIG-TIME Hemingway Fan who wished he could write like PAPA, it was a wonderful journey through his life with many details I had not read anywhere before.

Happy customer Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2021
3.0 out of 5 starsReally interesting history
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