Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea

Well, I hate to be the girl who has never read Hemingway and is criticizing PBS but here I go…This is one BORING (I also hate using the word boring to review anything!) documentary about a man whose persona is as famous as his novels. You would think that his story would tell like an enthralling piece of fiction, he frequented the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, he lived in Paris and Cuba, and he married four times. Oh yes, and let us not forget that he is one of the most famous writers in history, having received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Old Man and the Sea" and a Nobel Prize in literature.

Yet instead of a riveting look at Hemingway and his work, we are presented with a vague overview of the many facets of his life, all of which leave you wanting more. Correspondence between himself and others is read with the tone of a first year acting student who thinks enunciation is the key to success, and passages from his works are set to thematically appropriate stock footage that only serves the purpose of lulling you to sleep.

Like I said, I hate to put down PBS but I do believe they are capable of better than this. They have interviews with his son, his sister, various friends and scholars, and still somehow they don't get to the root of the writer. I think it is a bad sign when faced with interviews from the people who knew Hemingway intimately, a university professor is shown as having the most in-depth things to say. The documentary did remind me of the importance of his role in literary history, and because of that I am determined to read some Hemingway in my lifetime. For this reason PBS can be pleased, but that does not change the fact that this look into the author's life raised more questions than it did provide answers.

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