This work draws from Hemingway literature proper. It starts in after-War Paris but only to bring together the characters — Jake, Lady Ashley, Robert, Count, Bill and Mike. The movie is a fantastic sequence of impressive background, conversation and relationships.
The scene shifts soon to Spain and takes us through various stages of the bull-fighting ritual, complete with the associated revelry in an era when people were yet to outrage against the sport. Mercifully, the print here is without the gore and cruelty towards the animals. But it brings out very clearly the unbeatable advantage an erect biped human has over the four-footed beasts. It also brings in the seventh character into the drama : Romero, the bull fighter.
The festive exuberance of the season in Spain provides an exact foil to the human stories playing out within the plot. It is easy to miss it, especially how the War is still in their midst by its impact upon the lead characters Jake and Lady Ashley. It left Jake impotent and the woman forever wistful of that happy, fulfilling love-life the two would have had.
Jake has found a life around work and people who come visiting, in the lively social life of Paris and in places around. He is in control of himself except when goes to bed in his loneliness; and is never far from severe depression. The Lady will keep falling in love and not remain in any…
Which brings me to the real tragic theme of the movie : a relationship of undiminished love doomed to eternal separation. The War brings Jake and Ashley together, in a hospital where Jake recovers from his physical injuries. Love blossoms but briefly, until Jake is informed of his sexual disability. The two lead separate lives thereafter, scarred for the rest of their war-damned lives. Just the woman keeps coming into Jake’s life and, without meaning to, makes the beauteous life glow with hope despite its impossibility. As another day when the sun yet rises.