Two new Ernest Hemingway biopics are coming to the silver screen, including one starring Sir Anthony Hopkins in “Papa.”
The film is based on the writings and remembrances of Denne Bart Petitclerc, America’s youngest war correspondent in the Korean War, who had been inspired by how Hemingway reported on the Spanish Civil War. Petitclerc and Hemingway became closer when Petitclerc visited Hemingway several times in Havana.
Roger Donaldson, the director of “Papa,” is working closely with Petitclerc to create a realistic film. Donaldson is reported as saying Papa is “a thriller, it’s a love story, it’s Hemingway as he falls apart and is suicidal. This guy [Petitclerc] was a witness to it all.”
“Papa” won’t be the first movie to be based exclusively on Hemingway’s life, but it will be the first in a long while. In 1988, two movies were made based on Hemingway’s life: “Hemingway,” a television miniseries starring Stacy Keach, which won Keach a Golden Globe for his portrayal; and “The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway,” starring Victor Garber.
But Donaldson is going to have some competition, as James Gandolfini, acclaimed star of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” backs an untitled project about Hemingway’s work as a war correspondent. According to Internet Movie Database, Gandolfini’s project will be a drama centered on the romance between Ernest Hemingway and WWII correspondent Martha Gellhorn, which was Hemingway’s inspiration for his novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
With two films that are going to be highly publicized and highly interesting to Oak Park’s Hemingway Foundation, Virginia Cassin, the Hemingway Foundation’s past executive chairman and current vice chair, is interested in what this new movie could do for Hemingway lovers.
“Hemingway is not just an Oak Park icon, he’s a world icon. Having Anthony Hopkins in the part adds a nice aura to the undertaking. Our hope of course is that it’s something that’s done with some accuracy, some sympathy for the actor and for the artist.
“We are always, of course, very interested in the Oak Park years being shown with some appreciation as the great incubator for this tremendous talent. Many people aren’t aware of the amount of time that Ernest spent here in Oak Park and the impact on his later writing, and the ideas that were generated by these years here.”
Conni Irwin, the Hemingway Foundation’s volunteer coordinator, was very enthusiastic, saying, “Hopefully, this movie will encourage people to become volunteers, because hopefully this will engender more interest in Hemingway’s birthplace and youth. This is so cool, this would be absolutely wonderful.”