- One of Hemingway’s least popular and most poorly received novels, Across the River and Into the Trees, is being adapted for film. Pierce Brosnan is going to play the colonel and Maria Valverde will play Renata. Many years ago, Gary Cooper, who had been in two of Hemingway’s films already and who was a close friend of Hemingway’s, considered playing the colonel if it were ever adapted. It never came to pass and has never happened since.
- For those unfamiliar with this novel, published in 1950, it tells the story of an American colonel, Richard Cantwell, who is in Italy right after World War II. He has just learned that he has a terminal illness yet he carries on without telling anyone, with a stoic disregard of his fate. I haven’t read the novel in a while but my recollection is that the colonel was in his mid to late fifties and embittered by life. He decides to spend a weekend in quiet solitude. To that end, he grabs a military driver to take him on a duck hunting trip as well as to enjoy a visit to his old haunts in Venice. As his plans unravel, he meets a young countess, Renata, by chance and he begins to rekindle hope for a future possibly and he becomes less eager to die. Clearly infatuated with her, Cantwell dreams that he may have life left in him yet.
The inspiration for the novel was Hemingway’s love/infatuation for eighteen-year-old Adriana Ivancich. He met her in a rain storm. She was a bit bedraggled and Hemingway took his comb and broke it in half, giving her one half. The book became something of a scandal, more for her than for him, as the implication was that she and Hemingway were lovers. He would have wanted that but it appears that that did not happen. Adriana created the first cover art for the book, which was also widely criticized as amateurish. Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, also was none too keen on this book for many reasons. The reviews were brutal. Still it became a best seller within 7 weeks of its release in America.
Isabella Rosallini has signed on as the countess’s mother.
So we’ll see.
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