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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Literature > Ernest Hemingway – Rivers To The Sea (American Masters)

Ernest Hemingway – Rivers To The Sea (American Masters)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Documentary: B



The American Masters series may be the most underrated, ongoing program PBS has, unmatched by its many cable imitators.  These programs take on one individuals work and show how they were giants and innovators in the arts.  For the 90-minutes-long Ernest Hemingway – Rivers To The Sea (2005) to work, it has the obstacle of dealing with a literary giant.  It is difficult to deal with literature, especially since you could do a mini-series on Hemingway’s books and any film adaptations can only do so much.


Writer/director Dewitt Sage chooses to try to put his life in context throughout by telling his life story in chronological order and using his works throughout to connect the works to his life experience.  It does not imply an exact dead-on matching, but is a broader attempt to show where his work came from and because the history is tightly laid-out, the program works.  It still has limits as a result, but gives us a new angle of analysis of one of the boldest writers of the 20th Century and absolutely boldest men of all time.  It examines the “macho” side of things, but also shows why the man’s reputation was what it was.  Along with the telling interviews and analysis, this is yet another winning installment of American Masters.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is weak in detail, though it is hard to tell whether this is because the digital HD is a problem or the DVD transfer cannot capture that detail.  The weak Video Black makes us consider this would look better with 800 more lines.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is weak on surrounds and is better played on just two speakers, unless you want to experiment.  Extras include five additional interview segments, two of which are his children.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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