I watched slightly more than an hour, which was about my limit. It was slow-moving (“ponderous” is a little strong, but it’s tending in that direction), full of platitudes, and, for me at least, full of information that I already know. (In fairness, I’m probably not the target audience, since I’m already very familiar with both Hemingway’s writing and his life story. I get the impression that this was intended as “Hemingway 101.”)
I did come upon this, though, which is wonderful, and less than five minutes long:
The thing I like particularly is Welles’ lack of hokum when talking about Hemingway’s suicide. He (Hemingway) had a mental illness, which culminated in him killing himself. He was also, at his best, a great artist. There is also substantial evidence that he was sometimes a crappy human being. He was also a celebrity, which, especially these days, encourages people to draw facile connections between the first three facts.
In a New Yorker piece about the documentary, this question was asked:
But why a film about Hemingway now, and not, say, Faulkner? Is Faulkner not a more vibrant figure, who prefigured in his Snopes stories and novels the age of Trump and Derek Chauvin’s trial, and the Gordian knot of race that continues to choke large portions of our country?
The piece doesn’t answer the question, probably because the answer is too obvious.
Hemingway will get a lot more eyeballs watching. Not that he’s more often read these days than Faulkner (I have no information or opinions about that), but I’ve met a lot of people who have strong opinions about Hemingway despite never having read a word of his writing. Everybody I’ve ever met who had strong opinions about Faulkner had actually read his work.