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Kidman's Hemingway and Gellhorn gets red carpet in Cannes

india Updated: May 26, 2012 17:39 IST
Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman got a second major outing in Cannes on Friday, this time playing a war correspondent who waged her own battle against Ernest Hemingway as the literary lovers roamed the world.

Much of Hemingway and Gellhorn deals with the trip by the US writer, played by British actor Clive Owen, and the journalist to Spain during that country's brutal civil war in the late 1930s.

The Australian actress told AFP that she dedicated her role in the new film, which gets its Cannes red carpet premiere later Friday, to a US woman reporter for Britain's Sunday Times who was killed this year in Syria.

"I dedicated my performance of Martha to Marie Colvin, the journalist killed in Syria, because I really see her as someone similar to Martha. These women are still rare and Martha was the first," she said.

Colvin was killed along with French photographer Remi Ochlik on February 22 when a building that served as a makeshift media centre in the Syrian city of Homs was struck by a Syrian army mortar.

Kidman stars in a second film presented this week in Cannes, Lee Daniels' film noir The Paperboy, which is in the running for the Palme d'Or top prize.

Hemingway and Gellhorn, an HBO television channel film directed by Philip Kaufman and screened in Cannes out of competition, begins with the pair's first meeting in Sloppy Joe's bar in Key West in Florida.

Hemingway already had a serious reputation as a novel writer but while she had done some highly-praised journalism, she had not yet done any foreign reporting.

They finally got married in 1940 after travelling in Europe while Hemingway wrote his For Whom The Bell Tolls novel, for which Gellhorn was the inspiration.

Their travels also took them to China and they lived together off and on for several years in their villa near the Cuban capital Havana.

Kaufman, whose film depicts the hard-drinking Hemingway growing resentful of her frequent trips without him, cast a host of stars in supporting roles, including David Strathairn, Parker Posey, and Peter Coyote.

Gellhorn covered almost every major world conflict in her 60-year career, and witnessed the D-Day landings -- to get there she impersonated a stretcher bearer -- that saw the Allies begin to win Europe back from the Nazis.

She was also among the first reporters to get to Dachau concentration camp after it was liberated.

"It was thrilling," said Kidman of the role. "To play a writer and somebody who is determined to tell the story of the people, give voice to the voiceless as she says, travel the way she travelled, and she did it until her 80s."

Kidman said she was also glad that the film might help bring Gellhorn out of Hemingway's shadow.

"Unfortunately, nobody knows about her. The film will help to tell her story, to show that she is not only Hemingway third wife. She doesn't want to be defined by that. She doesn't deserve it either," she said in an interview.

Both Hemingway and Gellhorn ended their own lives. Hemingway shot himself in 1961, after struggling with psychological issues, and Gellhorn by drug overdose in 1998 after a battle with cancer.