Segments in this Video

Martha Gellhorn Overview (03:18)


The war correspondent sympathized with her subjects and was committed to social justice and human rights. Marie Colvin discusses parallels between their careers.

Public vs. Private Life (03:45)

Hear Gellhorn's reports on the London Blitz and on the Vietnam War. Colvin discusses her compassion, front line reporting, and romantic relationships. Her private life was chaotic and she antagonized people easily.

Liberal Childhood (04:16)

Hear details about Gellhorn's parents and education. She was closest to her mother, a suffragette and independent thinker. Her brother Alfred recalls a trip to Germany, during which they experienced antisemitism.

Higher Education and Career Beginnings (02:33)

Gellhorn edited the Bryn Mawr school magazine but wasn't academically successful. She left before graduating to work at the Albany Times. She wrote two novels and ten short story collections; hear her thoughts on journalism.

Self-Discovery (03:15)

At age 20 Gellhorn traveled to Europe to explore career options. In 1930, she began an affair with Bertrand de Jouvenel. She returned to the U.S. for an abortion.

Unromantic Relationships (02:37)

Gellhorn saw sex and abortions as necessary to advance her career. Her affair with Bertrand ended during a road trip across the U.S., during which she witnessed the Great Depression's impact on society.

"The Trouble I've Seen" (03:11)

Gellhorn befriended Eleanor Roosevelt and frequented the White House. H.G. Wells wrote the preface to her first short story collection. Friends describe how she met and began an affair with Ernest Hemingway in Key West.

Spanish Civil War (02:38)

Hemingway went to Spain to cover the conflict; Gellhorn followed him as a special correspondent at Collier's Magazine. They lived together in Madrid while under attack by Franco's forces.

Becoming a War Correspondent (02:28)

View a clip from Hemingway's documentary about the Siege of Madrid. Gellhorn criticized America and France's inaction; Collier's Magazine began publishing her civilian reports. In a 1987 interview, she describes a child killed by a shell.

Financial Success and First Marriage (03:28)

In 1939, Gellhorn joined Hemingway in Cuba and earned the equivalent of $12,000 per article. View clips of a documentary on Hemingway's writing studio. They married in 1940. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was a best seller but Hemingway's alcoholism became an issue.

Marital Deterioration (02:55)

When World War II broke out, Hemingway was reluctant to go to the front line but Gellhorn wanted to join the action. Their relationship suffered from his alcoholism and domestic expectations.

World War II (03:46)

In 1943, Gellhorn reported on the London Blitz and accompanied the 8th International Army in Italy. She returned to Cuba to persuade Hemingway to join her; he resented her career success. Experts debate whether her writing style influenced his or vice versa.

Professional Rivalry (03:31)

Despite Gellhorn’s success, Collier's Magazine commissioned Hemingway to cover the Normandy Invasion. Gellhorn traveled to Europe and joined a hospital ship, going ashore to Omaha Beach with ambulance teams and writing articles that Hemingway delayed delivering to Collier’s.

First Divorce (02:42)

Gellhorn followed the 82nd Airborne Division through Belgium and took its commander as a lover. She and Hemingway covered the Battle of the Bulge and fought in an Ardennes hotel; she sympathized with his decision to commit suicide in 1961.

Dachau (03:55)

In a 1987 interview, Gellhorn recalls witnessing the concentration camp liberation and learning of Nazi medical experiments. The experience changed her outlook on life forever.

Motherhood (03:25)

Gellhorn moved to London and adopted an Italian war orphan in 1949. She wasn't maternal by nature and married Tom Matthews to create a home. Her son Sandy describes their relationship.

Career Gap (02:36)

Matthews began an affair; Gellhorn divorced him and traveled to Africa. She wrote critical letters to Sandy, whose self esteem suffered, and struggled to begin writing again.

Vietnam War (03:34)

Gellhorn started an affair with "L," a wealthy American, and returned to writing about war. She sympathized with Vietnamese civilians and criticized American policy. Alfred recalls his mother's death in 1970.

Traumatic Experiences (02:54)

Gellhorn killed a boy in a car accident in Mombasa and was raped at age 79, events she later wrote about. She criticized the British government in articles about a women's anti-nuclear protest and a South Wales mining strike.

Family Reunion (02:48)

Gellhorn's relationship with Sandy suffered and he became addicted to drugs. However, they reconciled while he was in prison and she became more dependent on him as she aged.

London Social Life (02:57)

Gellhorn suffered depression as she aged and worked as a garbage collector at Kew Gardens as a distraction. Younger friends recall her parties, cooking, and sense of humor.

End of Life (03:03)

Gellhorn lost her sight and could no longer write, but was happy about her improved relationship with Sandy. Suffering from cancer, she took her own life in 1998 at age 89. Friends and family recall their final interactions with her.

Legacy (03:29)

Alfred and Sandy recall scattering Gellhorn's ashes on the River Thames; Alfred buried some at their family home in New York. Their mother bore witness to civilian suffering, and cared more about social justice than about herself.

Credits: Martha Gellhorn on the Record (01:06)

Credits: Martha Gellhorn on the Record

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Martha Gellhorn on the Record

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Martha Gellhorn broke the mold. She was the first woman to achieve an international reputation as a war reporter. She emulated, and some say surpassed, her first husband, Ernest Hemingway, in the way she described war and its consequences. This absorbing documentary reveals the truth about her marriage to, and rivalry with, Hemingway; her bravery in covering conflicts and her tangled relationships, both with her family and with the men she met along the way as she reported the war.

Length: 75 minutes

Item#: BVL109761

ISBN: 978-1-68272-539-9

Copyright date: ©2002

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.