Florence Nightingale is portrayed in this film, she achieved through confrontation with her family, her friends, the medical profession, and the British military authorities. Whether such conflicts were at the root of her success I cannot say. It is clear, however, that she is responsible for several very important revolutions in health care. First, she introduced cleanliness as of primary importance. Then, she raised the duties and the perception of nurses to the level of a profession. Lastly, she established formal education for nurses.
The British television production clearly shows conditions as they were when Florence arrived at adulthood. She was of the gentry, but her heart was with the sick and injured of whatever class. Rejecting a worthy suitor, she set off to Kaiserswerth in Germany to get nursing training, such as it was at the time.
Upon her return, she shocked her family by entering and then working in a hospital, the type of institution where ladies just didn’t set foot. Hospitals were filthy, like prisons, where the attendants treated patients with utter distain and where the environment was vile indeed.
Miss Nightingale came into her own during 1854, in the Crimean War. This film does an excellent job of portraying that. She took a group of nurses to a military hospital and revolutionized it over the constant objections of the military commanders and the doctors. She did gain some support as word of her changes began to be reported back home in Britain.
Anyone with a background or interest in health care, especially in nursing or hospital administration will enjoy this film for its subject matter. The filmmaking is a bit uneven and episodic, which you might expect from a television series.
Jaclyn Smith portrays Florence with sensitivity, thereby creating a believable and engaging character.