In Love and War (1996)


In Love and War is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the book, Hemingway in Love and War by Henry S. Villard and James Nagel.

Its action takes place during the First World War and is based on the wartime experiences of the writer Ernest Hemingway.

Refer to In Love and War (1958), (1987), (2001), (2011), and (2018), and A Farewell to Arms Overview (storyline follows In Love and War).


In Italy during World War I, the US president has sent teams of Red Cross doctors and nurses to boost Italian morale and help with the wounded. Volunteers drive ambulances and work in the front line canteens. Ernest Hemingway (Chris O’Donnell) a 19-year-old, becomes an ambulance driver in Italy, although he wishes to become a reporter and writer. Wanting to fight against the enemy, he ends up with a shot leg, trying to save a companion from the field.

He is taken into a hospital, where an American nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky (Sandra Bullock) takes care of him. During the first night at the hospital, Ernest tells Agnes “i love you. Let’s get married”, while in a state of delirium. Ernest’s health becomes worse and Agnes tries everything to save his leg from what she believes is gangrene. A successful operation puts Ernest on the path to recovery. As time passes , they become attached, even though Agnes has reservations because of their age difference.

Eventually, Agnes and some other nurses need to be moved closer to the front. As she can’t find Ernest to tell him the bad news in person, she asks their friend to give him a letter. Ernest is shocked at finding out that she has left. While working on the front, Agnes receives a letter from Ernest telling her how much he misses her. After a few days, Ernest finally visits, telling her that he has received orders to return to the United States. He declares his love for Agnes, asking her to meet him at a nearby hotel to spend their remaining time together and to promise each other daily letters, until they are able to get married.

After some time spent on the front, Agnes is asked by one of the nurses, a good friend, to spend the weekend at Dr. Domenico Caracciolo’s, who has feelings for Agnes. The three of them spend time together, seeing the surroundings of Venice. The letters from Agnes soon become less and less frequent, causing Ernest great concern. While showing her an unfinished hospital, Dr. Domenico proposes. She hesitates, still thinking of Ernest. She decides to write him a letter, telling him their relationship must end, partly because of their age gap. Ernest is devastated.

Eight months later, in New York, Agnes meets an old friend and ex-patient, Harry. She confesses that she did not marry the doctor and finds out that Ernest is still angry. She decides to go to Ernest’s cabin, near Lake Warloon. Still angry and proud, Ernest does not accept her love. The film ends with Agnes telling him “I love you” as she leaves the cabin, never to see him again.


  • Sandra Bullock as Agnes von Kurowsky.
  • Chris O’Donnell as Ernest ‘Ernie’ Hemingway.
  • Mackenzie Astin as Henry Villard.
  • Margot Steinberg as Mabel ‘Rosie’ Rose.
  • Alan Bennett as Porter.
  • Ingrid Lacey as Elsie ‘Mac’ MacDonald.
  • Emilio Bonucci as Dr. Domenico Caracciolo.
  • Terence Sach as Porter.
  • Carlo Croccolo as Town Mayor.
  • Vincenzo Nicoli as Enrico Biscaglia.
  • Tara Hugo as Katherine ‘Gumshoe’ De Long.
  • Gigi Vivan as Italian Child.
  • Giuseppe Bonato as Grandfather.
  • Allegra Di Carpegna as Loretta Cavanaugh.
  • Diane Witter as Adele Brown.
  • Mindy Lee Raskin as Charlotte Anne Miller.
  • Tracy Hostmyer as Ruth Harper.
  • Tim McDonell as The Adjutant (Tenente Alberte).


  • This film is largely based on Hemingway’s real-life experiences in the First World War as a young ambulance-driver in Italy.
    • He was wounded and sent to a military hospital, where he shared a room with Villard (who later wrote the book the movie is based on) and they were nursed by Agnes von Kurowsky. Hemingway and Kurowsky fell strongly in love, but somehow the relationship did not work out.
  • The film – apparently in a deliberate attempt to capture what the director called Hemingway’s “emotional intensity” – takes liberties with the facts.
    • In real life, unlike the movie, the relationship was probably never consummated, and the couple did not meet again after Hemingway left Italy.
  • Hemingway, deeply affected by his romantic relationship with Kurowsky, later wrote several stories about it, including A Farewell to Arms.
  • Sandra Bullock researched her role of Agnes Von Kurowsky by reading her dairies that she kept during the war and reading the love letters between her and Ernest Hemingway.
  • Several scenes were filmed in or near the Italian village Vittorio Veneto, including the battle scenes. Many of the extras playing the soldiers in the movie were airmen from nearby Aviano Air Base that volunteered to star in the movie.
  • At the beginning of this WWI movie an Italian marching band is playing the “Beer Barrel Polka”.
    • The song was not written until the late 1920’s and is Czech.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Richard Attenborough.
  • Producer(s):
    • Richard Attenborough … producer.
    • Janis Rothbard Chaskin … associate producer.
    • Diana Hawkins … co-producer.
    • Chris Kenny … supervising producer.
    • Sara Risher … executive producer.
    • Dimitri Villard … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Henry S. Villard … (book).
    • James Nagel … (book).
    • Allan Scott … (screen story).
    • Dimitri Villard … (screen story).
    • Allan Scott … (screenplay).
    • Clancy Sigal … (screenplay).
    • Anna Hamilton Phelan … (screenplay).
  • Music:
    • George Fenton.
  • Cinematography:
    • Roger Pratt … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Lesley Walker.
  • Production:
    • Dimitri Villard Productions.
    • New Line Cinema.
  • Distributor(s):
    • New Line Cinema (1996) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Lider Films (1998) (Argentina) (theatrical).
    • Metropolitan Filmexport (1997) (France) (theatrical).
    • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distribution (1997) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • Prooptiki (1997) (Greece) (theatrical).
    • Sandrew Film & Teater (1997) (Sweden) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros Pictures (1997) (India) (theatrical) (as Warner Bros F. E. Inc.).
    • Alliance Video (Canada) (VHS).
    • Audio Visual Enterprises (1998) (Greece) (VHS).
    • GAGA. (all media).
    • Líder Films (Spain) (all media).
    • PlayArte Home Vídeo (2004) (Brazil) (DVD).
    • PolyGram Video (1997) (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • Sandrew Film & Teater (1998) (Sweden) (VHS).
    • Top Tape (Brazil) (VHS).
    • Transeuropa Video Entertainment (TVE) (1998) (Argentina) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures (2003) (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures (2005) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • VCL Communications (Germany) (video).
    • Warner Bros. (all media).
    • Warner Home Video (2010) (Germany) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 18 December 1996 (limited, US) and 24 January 1997 (general, US).
  • Rating: 15.
  • Running Time: 113 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English and Italian.

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