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Reporter Ernest Hemingway is an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I. While bravely risking his life in the line of duty, he is injured and ends up in the hospital, where he falls in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. Written by
This film's opening prologue states: "This film is based on a true story . . . NORTHERN ITALY 1918. Here, during the final year of World War One, Italy was defending itself alone against a massive Austrian invasion. America was one of Italy's allies but the US Army was already fully committed in France. So President Wilson sent in teams of Red Cross doctors and nurses to boost Italian morale and help care for the wounded. Young men across America responded to the President's call for further volunteers to drive red Cross ambulances and work in the front line canteens." See more »
Ernie says his train leaves at 5:30 a.m., but when Agnes sees him off, it is bright daylight and the sun is nearly vertical. See more »
For those of you who have read Hemingway, you will be surprised and captivated by the boyishness of the pre-war Hemingway that O'Donnell gives us so beautifully. The episodes in the life of the author that are covered by In Love and War are for the most part, not pretty. However, they give an insight into the writing of America's greatest author that no other movie of his work has ever done. Those who expected a movie version of A Farewell to Arms did not receive it, because the autobiographical In Love and War does not tell the same story that the semi-autobiographical book, A Farewell to Arms did. In Love and War is far closer to the truth, as other Hemingway scholars will attest. In that way, this movie is a valuable historical and biographical resource for people interested in Hemingway and his experiences in WWII Italy.
If you are watching this movie just for fun, however, and not to gain insight into a book or an author's life, there is much here for you as well. Bullock and O'Donnell have a wonderful chemistry, and the lighthearted moments are weighed against a tale of great agony and suffering without being preachy or too painful. There are serious moments, when the reality of life and war come home to Ernest, and there are beautiful moments, when Catherine explores Italy. It's a wonderful mix of the dramatic and the light, without being overdone or showy. The realism is striking. I hope that everyone who watches this movie enjoys it as much as I did.
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