Best Hemingway on Film
Billyjack D'Urberville | USA | 10/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While there is a movie of almost every novel Hemingway published in his lifetime, this gem is heads above any other film version of his fiction.
Soldier's Home is a short story based on a World War I veteran's homecoming to his small Oklahoma town, but most recognize the town as as Hemingway's Oak Park, and some of the familial tension as based on his own. The Nick Adams stories of the same period were more identifiably autobiographical; the transposition to Oklahoma with a differently named veteran may have been to erect a second veil of privacy.
But all of this matters little except as orientation. The economy of Hemingway's fictional method included, as a major technique, the witholding of explanatory background and baggage. The problem with most Hemingway films is that they attempt to put back in what he cut. This one does not. It leaves the story straight as Kentucky whiskey, bitter as pickle brine -- effects Hollywood would never likely produce given its commercial demands (public television made this film). The effect is quite startling -- not only the costumes and speech, but the whole invisible aura of the time transmitted as clean as if they had color film and sound back then.
To say much more would spoil the story, except that it effectively explains how the lost generation got lost."