The Sun Also Rises: The Movie

The Sun Also Rises poster

The Sun Also Rises poster

Destination: France and Spain

Movie: The Sun Also Rises (1957)

Having thoroughly enjoyed the novel as travel literature, which I talked about yesterday, I decided to pop the movie The Sun Also Rises to the top of my Netflix cue, and see how much travel value it has.

What the movie lacks in subtlety and backstory, it makes up for in scenery. The opening shot of the Seine alone is worth the price of admission–sun shining through clouds on a broad, empty river.  And although I thought some of the Paris street scenes looked like back lot, listening to the auxiliary materials that came with the DVD explained that all the Paris scenes were actually in Paris (Paris of the 1950′s made to look like the 1920′s). To comment and

And consulting a new book that I just received, [amazonify]1887140832::text::::Paris Movie Walks[/amazonify], by Michael Shurmann, I discovered that I can visit at least two of the establishments in the movie–Le Pharamond and the Select.  Please, readers, if you know of other bistros, bars and restaurants that have survived since the writing of Sun Also Rises, would you let me know before I go to Paris next year?

The Spanish scenes are a bit more suspect.  The film’s screenwriter, Henry Viertel, complains that producer Darryl Zanuck took the Spanish scenes to Morelia, Mexico. That decision was wrong because residents of Pamplona, he says, are Basque, blond and Viking in appearance, rather than dark like Mexicans. So the street scenes and fiesta scenes, which look quite exciting in the movie, are filled with the wrong shade of extras.

Note: Furthr research indicates the settings are more complex than I implied. The fiesta scenes actually WERE in Pamplona, but everything else, including the bull fights were in Morelia, Mexico. The director did masterful work of cutting in the smaller scenes with the stars into the authentic footage of the fiesta parades, etc. The actors never went to Pamplona, apparently.

The other objection that the historian commentators have about the film is that Hemingway was in his mid 20′s when he wrote this book about survivors of the Great War, who would have been at most in their late twenties. Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn, although performing beautifully, are obviously much older than that. I had to laugh when they changed the age of the bullfighter from 19 to 22, probably not wanting Lady Brett (Ava Gardner) to be accused of violating the Mann act.

I thought the slapstick scene in the bull ring with Eddie Alberts and Errol Flynn did not seem true to the book.  But in general the movie stayed close to Hemingway’s theme and mood.

Looking at the DVD was fun, and listening to the commentary at the end provided a lot of education about Hemingway, and the film. How do you think Juliette Greco‘s tiny role of a prostitute got stretched over several scenes? Find out in the commentary.

Recommended viewing for some luscious and tempting scenery.  And I’ll be back to talk about the book Paris Movie Walks at a later date.

Poster available for sale at All Posters

Meanwhile, I’m curious. Do you listen to the commentary that comes with the DVD, or do you prefer to watch the movie and go to bed as my husband does, leaving the wizard behind the curtain?

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler’s Library, recreating her family’s past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

Vera Marie Badertscher – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.


About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

5 thoughts on “The Sun Also Rises: The Movie

  1. As to your warning on the importance of (not) being Ernest: Perhaps some travelers can pretend to catch the cultural nuances suggested in Papa’s stories by slurping Shirley Temples at the bodgea and watching the bloodless Portugese bullfights, but such efforts border on ethnocentric self-delusion. Still, I agree that one needn’t watch a whale being slaughtered to appreciate Melville’s epic. On the other hand, as I suppose you yourself to be a more adventuresome traveler, I am sure you will confirm that those who wish never to be offended shouldn’t travel abroad at all.

  2. Having absorbed the romantic/realism of Hemingway in my youth, I was fascinated by bullfights and have seen several in Mexico and Spain. I have heard American tourists expressing unHemingway-like sentiments such as “I hope the poor bull wins.” Perhaps they believe this demonstrates their moral superiority to the natives. It is better for such visitors not to attend these rule-bound performances, or, if you will, sacrifices. They are balletic rituals in which an athlete faces a furious and sometimes lethal beast and together they re-enact an atavistic, primal story going back at least as far as the Minoan and Greek myths. Probably we should not make too much of the nobility of the small man in the “suit of lights” facing the demonic bull, but there is something there that is more than just a splattering of dark blood and bull-slobber. Of course, as citizens of an advanced civilization, we prefer our blood sports to involve only human beings. Cagefights, anyone?

    1. Well, I feel complelled on behalf of those of us who like to read Hemingway, but are under no compulsion to be Hemingway. I believe that those of us who did not attend the bloody sacrificial rites, are equally uninterested in Cage Fights, boxing, or roller derby, for that matter. At least, to Jake’s credit, he did NOT attend the running of the bulls and was at least mildly disgusted by the goring of a spectator. Yep, had occurred to me that this “rite” went back to the Minoans. But we have left a lot of other things from primitive civilizations in the past. Perhaps the bull dancing should stay in Cretan art.

  3. Thanks for the review of The Sun Also Rises. At the Ava Gardner Museum this fall, our annual festival will have an “Ava and Hemingway” theme, with a new exhibit and showing the three movies she did based on Hemingway works: The Killers, The Snows of Kilimnajaro, and The Sun Also Rises. Check out those other two if you are in the mood for some more Hemingway and Ava!
    .-= jmeadows´s last blog ..Museum Collection =-.

    1. To J Meadows: I am delighted that you found A Traveler’s Library and let us know about the Ava Gardner Museum. Much as I love Ava Gardner and her smoldering beauty, I did not think that she quite had the right casual “love ‘em and leave ‘em” air that compelled Brett through life in The Sun Also Rises. I saw The Snows of Kilimnajaro long ago, but should re-view it. Thanks for the suggestions.
      And, Jessie: I’m still waiting for someone to comment on the importance of bull fighting. I’m seriously curious about people’s attitudes. Even in the fifties when the movie was made, the film makers were squeamish about showing the realities of the bullfight. For example, in the book, the matador cuts off the bull’s ear and gives it to Brett. Not in the movie.

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