“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea.” – The Old Man and the Sea
Being a giant Ernest Hemingway fan, I was very excited to learn about a film chronicling Hemingway’s friendship and fishing adventures with Gregorio Fuentes, no matter how short it was. “The Old Man and Hemingway” begins with the infamous quote above and dissolves to the eyes of ancient Fuentes. He describes his relationship with Hemingway, from the moment they met, up to the last time he saw Hemingway alive.
Hemingway met Fuentes in the midst of the ocean in the late-30s, when Hemingway’s boat stalled out. Fuentes rescued him and invited him on his boat for drinks while they waited for help to arrive. They formed a strong bond – one that would last until Hemingway’s death – and Hemingway felt Gregorio would be a perfect boat captain for him.
The two went out on countless fishing trips together and Gregorio confesses that after Hemingway’s suicide in 1961, he never went on another fishing trip with anyone ever again.
The film was shot in the actual setting of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” in Cuba. The Old Man and Hemingway is a sad and touching, and even humorous, short piece that is so interesting, you don’t want it to end. Even so, upon reflection, the length is perfect. It is a challenge to make something so short and have it both captivating and moving but Hugo Perez and editor William Charles did a fantastic job with this film. It is both of those things and so much more.