(THE) SPANISH EARTH (1937) B/W 54m dir: Joris Ivens
music by Marc Blitzstein and Virgil Thompson, based on Spanish folk music
commentary written and spoken by Ernest Hemingway
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "In the small Spanish village of Fuenteduena near Madrid and Valencia, the villagers develop plans for the irrigation of land recently confiscated from the feudal landowners while military forces take part in the defense of Madrid.
"The beautiful commentary for this extraordinarily moving document on the Spanish Civil War and the attendant land reform was written by Ernest Hemingway. An example of the style is in the sequence of the bombed village where Hemingway says: 'Before, death came when you were old or sick. But now it comes to all this village. High in the sky and shining silver it comes to all who have no place to run. No place to hide.' Orson Welles, then a young actor, was hired to read the commentary (this reading was used in the White House screening described below) but his voice was found too declamatory for Hemingway's stark style and Hemingway himself recorded it 'like that of a sensitive reporter who has been on the spot' (Ivens). The film was previewed at the White House in a special screening for President F.D. Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt, and others. The president apparently liked it very much and Mrs. Roosevelt wrote a warm review of it in her column the following day. However, when generally released, critics in the USA attacked its lack of 'objectivity' and in Britain it was banned by the censor until all references to Italian and German intervention in Spain were deleted from the commentary."