“I’ve written a movie that I’m going to be directing called “Hemingway & Fuentes,” about Ernest Hemingway’s relationship with the fisherman who inspired “The Old Man and the Sea.” Anthony Hopkins will be playing Hemingway.) (Andy Garcia June 19, 2013)
“Gregorio Fuentes is reportedly the inspiration behind Hemingway’s Santiago character in his beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning tale The Old Man and the Sea.” ( Internet Movie Database)
But in fact, for decades the model and inspiration for the character Santiago in The Old Man and The Sea was recognized as the Cojimar fisherman Anselmo Hernandez.
For starters, when Hemingway penned his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, his boat captain and mechanic Gregorio Fuentes (who Andy Garcia will portray in the upcoming movie) was Hemingway’s same age 53 (“Old Man?”) But Anselmo Hernandez was about 80.
Also: Life Magazine excerpted The Old Man and The Sea in 1952, accompanied by pictures –not of Gregorio Fuentes but–of Anselmo Hernandez (seen above.)
Also: Sothebys’ sells the signed first edition of the Old Man and The Sea that Hemingway gave Spencer Tracy when he visited Cuba to prep for his role as Santiago. The item is advertized thusly: “Ernest (Hemingway) was pleasantly surprised by (Spencer) Tracy who seemed both modest and intelligent. Under the guidance of his host he went to inspect the small port of Cojimar and even had the good luck to see old Anselmo Hernandez, the model for the fisherman Santiago, asleep in his shack after having fished all through the night.”
Also: Philip Young–among the first biographers of Hemingway whose book is still hailed as “quite the best book on Hemingway (published originally in 1953, reprinted in 1966)–also regards Anselmo Hernandez as the inspiration for Santiago, and documents it pretty convincingly.
So what happened in the interim, you ask?
Simple: Anselmo Hernandez, disgusted with Castroim, left Cuba during the Camarioca boatlift in 1965(at age 92!)
On the other hand: Gregorio Fuentes remained and later became a de-facto deputy apparatchik of Castro’s tourism ministry.
Garcia is directer, star and writer of the movie. His co-writer is Hemingway’s niece Hilary, who produced “Hemingway in Cuba,” on which much of the script is based. This documentary (like anything filmed in Cuba) is a Castro-regime co-production, with cameos from “President” Castro himself.
“Gregorio Fuentes is a fixture on a Cuban tourist trail dedicated to Hemingway, an American whom Cuba flaunts as a national treasure”/a>
She (Fuentes’ daughter)says Fidel Castro was a great friend to Hemingway and Fuentes. Castro said he envied Hemingway because of the travelling he had done She tells us that when Hemingway held his first broadbill fishing tournament, Castro came out to fish with him and won the competition. I have seen the wall posters in Havana; Ernest and Fidel, shaking hands, smiling…During the Second World War, they patrolled the coast for German U-boats. Years later, Fuentes says, he and Hemingway patrolled the same coast to assist Castro’s rebel army.
“Hemingway and Fuentes” sounds right for Oliver Stone, Steve Soderbergh, etc.–but a movie about the genuine Old Man of the Sea who–though dirt poor and 92 years old–found Castroism so intolerable that he risked his life on a rickety boat to escape it–THIS strikes me as a crackerjack subplot: “The old man was poor but he was free. He answered to nobody. He took orders from nobody. Came Castroism and he was outta there, along with 2 million other Cubans.”
And Hey? Shouldn’t a dirt-poor, 92 year-old person been enamored of free-healthcare?!
And hey? Wonder if this movie might “influence” tourism to Cuba, “people to people” and othewise?