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Florence Nightingale [DVD]
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BBC drama that explores the emotional and spiritual trauma suffered by Florence Nightingale on her return from the Crimean War. After witnessing the horrors of the war first hand, Florence Nightingale (Laura Fraser) campaigned strongly for an investigation when she finally returned to England. The findings however, that many of the soldiers in her care died as a result of her own failings, caused her to re-evaluate her life's mission, breaking her in mind and spirit.
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if you want to see a film about a great lady from history i wouldnt choose this film, if you like a drama that brushes her life than this film is ok, i was left feeling disappointed this film could have been so much better with just a little more research but im left to think the film is so light on fact as they squeezed it in to such a short time
** Written and directed by Norman Stone
** Produced by Roger Childs
** Run time: 65 minutes
The cast includes the following:
** Laura Fraser as Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
** Michael Pennington as William Edward Nightingale, aka WEN (1794-1874) – her father
** Barbara Marten as Mrs. Nightingale (1789-1880) – her mother
** Catherine Tyldesley as Parthenope (1819-1890) – her sister
** Andrew Harrison as Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) – a British politician
** Ian Bartholomew as Sidney Herbert (1810-1861) – a British politician
** Zoe Street as Queen Victoria
** Roy Hudd as Music Hall Barker
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 as the second daughter of a rich English family. She was born in Florence, Italy, and she was named after the place where she was born. During the Crimean War (1853-1956), she became known as “the Lady with the Lamp,” who took care of the sick and the wounded. Today she is known as the founder of modern nursing.
In this movie the focus is on the Crimean War and its aftermath. There is almost nothing about her life before the war (only a few brief flashbacks) and absolutely nothing about her life after 1860 (only a few on-screen messages), although her biggest legacy is the work she did after that time.
On IMDb this movie has a rating of 56 per cent, which corresponds to three stars on Amazon, but this average rating is a combination of positive and negative reviews. I can understand the positive reviews, but I cannot agree with them. I can understand the negative reviews, and I tend to agree with them. This movie has several flaws and some of them are quite serious. Let me explain:
# 1. The movie covers only a small part of Florence Nightingale’s life, the years around the Crimean War. A full biography should cover the time before the war as well as the time after the war. 65 minutes is not much to cover the years around the Crimean War.
# 2. The movie is based on her diaries and letters. When these documents are quoted in the movie, Florence is talking aloud to herself. This is an odd way of providing information. Florence would hardly sit all alone in her bedroom and talk to herself about her experiences during the war. This odd method means that some scenes are not realistic; the movie lacks authenticity.
# 3. The story of Florence and the Crimean War is frequently interrupted by clips from a music hall performance about her role in the war. No year is given, but it is probably from 1856. These clips may tell us how she was perceived by the British public around 1856, but they do no help us understand her life and her importance in any way. In a movie that runs for only 65 minutes, these clips must be described as irrelevant; they are a waste of time.
# 4. This movie is a Christian movie, although it is not advertised as such. It is a Faith & Values Media production. This is no secret. It is stated in the credits at the end of the movie. This fact explains why there is such a strong focus on the Christian religion in this movie.
# 5. The structure of the movie is confusing, because the story-line is jumping back and forth. We begin in 1856, when the war is over; then we jump to 1837, when Florence is about 17, when she says she gets a message from God; then we jump to 1849, when Florence is about 29, when she rejects a proposal from a young man who wants to marry her. In between, we have the clips from the music hall performance. As far as I can see, this jumping back and forth in time does not serve any purpose at all. It is merely confusing.
As a biography of Florence Nightingale this movie is not successful. What we have is a brief glimpse of a person who played an important role in the history of the 19th century, but not more than that. I would like to have the whole story. I do not want to see Florence talking to the camera. I do not need to watch a bombastic music hall performance, and even though Florence comes from a Christian family, I do not think it is right to turn the story of her life into a story of Christianity.
The story of Florence Nightingale is important and deserves to be told. Unfortunately, it is not told very well in this movie. The negative points are so much stronger than the positive. This movie is fatally flawed, and therefore I cannot give it more than two stars.
PS # 1. The Lady with a Lamp is a British historical movie from 1951 starring British actress Anna Neagle in the leading role. Florence Nightingale is a US television movie from 1985 starring US actress Jaclyn Smith in the leading role (both movies were released on DVD in 2011).
PS # 2. “Florence Nightingale” is a 48-minute documentary film about “the Lady with the Lamp.” In this film (which is available online) her legacy is discussed with positive and negative interpretations.
PS # 3. Florence Nightingale: The Woman and her Legend is a recent biography by Mark Bostridge (2008, 2009).
PS # 4. There is a Florence Nightingale Museum in London at St. Thomas Hospital (where she was active). It was established in 1989. It was re-opened in 2010 after extensive refurbishment.
PS # 5. There is a Florence Nightingale Museum in Istanbul in the First Army Headquarters, Selimiye Barracks (on the Asian side of the city). You must book your visit two days in advance, because the museum is located inside a military base.
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