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, Paris Movie Walks, by Michael Shurmann, I discovered that I can visit at least two of the establishments in the movie–Le Pharamond and Le 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?