The Spanish Earth
|The Spanish Earth|
|Directed by||Joris Ivens|
|Produced by||Herman Shumlin|
|Written by||Ernest Hemingway
John Dos Passos
|Narrated by||Orson Welles
Jean Renoir (French language version)
|Edited by||Helen van Dongen|
|Distributed by||Contemporary Historians Inc.|
|Release date(s)||July 11, 1937|
|Running time||52 min.|
|Language||English / Spanish / German|
The Spanish Earth is a 1937 propaganda film made during the Spanish Civil War in support of the democratically elected Republicans, whose forces included a wide range of the political left, communists, socialists, anarchists, centrists, and liberalist elements. The film was directed by Joris Ivens, written by John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, with music composed by Marc Blitzstein and Virgil Thomson.
In December 1936, several literary figures, including Lillian Hellman, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, and Archibald MacLeish, formed and funded a company they named Contemporary Historians, Inc., to back a film project proposed by Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens. Hellman and MacLeish collaborated on the story. Ernest Hemingway was a major contributor as well. The film's backers specifically meant the film to demonstrate support for the Republican forces and the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion who fought against the Nationalists, unlike Hollywood's only other effort on the subject, the apolitical 1937 film, The Last Train from Madrid. A later film, Blockade (1938), was also sympathetic to the Republicans.
Orson Welles, who starred in Archibald MacLeish's verse play, Panic (1935), and had recently performed the role of narrator in his CBS Radio verse play, The Fall of the City, recorded the narration for The Spanish Earth in May 1937. An additional English-language release is narrated by Ernest Hemingway. A French-language version is narrated by Jean Renoir.:617:333, 337
President and Mrs. Roosevelt invited Hemingway and Ivens to show the film at the White House in advance of its premiere. The version screened for the Roosevelts July 8, 1937, was narrated by Orson Welles.
A review in the New York Times found Hemingway's narration "a definitely propagandist effort" and preferred the camera work that "argues gently and persuasively, with the irrefutable argument of pictorially recorded fact, that the Spanish people are fighting, not for broad principles of Muscovite Marxism, but for the right to the productivity of a land denied them through years of absentee landlordship." The same reviewer in a longer essay concluded that: "Contemporary Historians, Inc...are Ivens' employers and it is their right to dispose of his product as they see fit. They have used it as a violent outcry against fascism. Ivens might have made it lasting art as well."
- Carl Rollyson, Lillian Hellman: Her Legend and her Legacy (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1988), 106
- William Wright, Lillian Hellman: The Image, the Woman (), 136
- Deborah Martinson, Lillian Hellman: A Life with Foxes and Scoundrels (NY: Counterpoint 2005), 120
- Brady, Frank, Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1989 ISBN 0-385-26759-2
- Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1992 ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
- "Clash of the Titans: When Orson Welles met Ernest Hemingway to narrate The Spanish Earth (May 1937)". Lawrence French, Wellesnet, July 18, 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Martinson, Lillian Hellman, 121
- New York Times: "'The Spanish Earth', at the 55th St. Playhouse, is a Plea for Democracy," August 21, 1937, accessed December 21, 2011
- New York Times: John T. McManus, "Realism Invides Gotham," August 22, 1937, accessed December 21, 2011
- New York Times: Bosley Crowther, "More Grief than Hope," January 21, 1947, accessed December 21, 2011
- "Allegorical War Drama Highlights TCM’s Dec. 14 Salute to The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film". Zap2it, December 1, 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- "The Spanish Earth", Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- The Spanish Earth at the Internet Movie Database
- The Spanish Earth at the TCM Movie Database
- The Spanish Earth at the Internet Archive (narration by Ernest Hemingway)
- Stephen Koch, “The Breaking Point: Hemingway, dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles” reviewed by George Packer, including many references to the film