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Florence Nightingale (1985)

The fact-based story of the pioneer of nursing known as 'the Lady with the Lamp'.



(teleplay), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fanny Nightingale
Richard Milnes
William Russell
Dr. Sutherland
Ann Thornton ...
William Nightingale
Dr. Hall (as Jeremy Childs)
Dr. McGregor
Patrick Drury ...
Henry Nicholson
Dr. Menzies
Charles Bracebrige
Lorna Heilbron ...


This is the fact-based story of an aristocratic woman who defies Victorian society to reform hospital sanitation and to define the nursing profession as it is known today. After volunteering to travel to Scutari to care for the wounded soldiers, who are victims of the Crimean war, she finds herself very unwelcome and faces great opposition for her new way of thinking. However through her selfless acts of caring, she quickly becomes known as 'The Lady with the Lamp', the caring nurse whose shadow soldiers kiss. Written by CindyH

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Release Date:

7 April 1985 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Florence  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wolf Kahler is credited in the end titles but he is nowhere to be seen at all. See more »


Florence Nightingale: When I was seventeen, I heard a call from God. He spoke to me, Mr Milnes. Now, you can laugh if you like.
Richard Milnes: And what precisely did God call upon you to do?
Florence Nightingale: I don't know. That's what torments me. Something more, to be more than a pampered, wealthy, little girl. Somehow, to use the gifts I have to serve, instead of going dancing and to parties.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits appear on a background of monochrome period drawings. See more »


Version of The White Angel (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

Missed opportunities with a difficult subject matter
17 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The life of Florence Nightingale--one of the great intellectual titans this world has ever known--is fascinating and dramatic, and one fraught with sacrifice, courage, and great sadness.

As someone who spent two years with the subject through research and by writing and completing a full-length spec script on Nightingale (written and registered before NBC's TV movie was available on DVD), I viewed this film more as series of missed opportunities and plodding digressions, distinguished more by what the left out or glossed over or ill- advisedly reinvented than by what they left in.

Overall, the teleplay was fine for what is was up until the point Florence arrives in the Crimea. Once in Turkey, however, the biopic simply falls flat on it face, finding little drama and even less resolution. While I completely understand that not every nuance of history can be examined and budgetary constraints determined structure and style, the teleplay failed to capture even the essence of any real tension vs. resolution. Everything just neatly fell into place while real life and real history is far messier.

For instance, watching the movie, one is left with the feeling that while FN's mother may have had some disagreement with her choice in career, she was generally okay with it. In fact, their arguments were frequent and very loud--a veritable boxing match that was constant and damaging. Florence rather despised her mother and the matronly traditions she stood for.

Florence herself did not make a connection between the sickness of her men and the "sickness" of Barracks Hospital. In fact, Florence, or the British Army, did not understand (or believe) that airborne or water-borne diseases existed, hence no alarm was made by the decaying carcasses contaminating the water supply.

While the teleplay did mention that God was her inspiration and that he "spoke" to her, the film leads you to believe He did this on this one time. In fact, her writings reveal a deep and unbridled relationship with God and many incidents of "conversation", the most dramatic one being on her 30th birthday after a particularly mystical trip to Egypt and Greece. Florence's struggle with the meaning and message of her belief in the Divine mandate is one of the key--some would say flaw, others would say divinely sacrificial--aspects of her character that is the hardest to digest and/or dramatize.

In the 20 years since the teleplay, there have been several major works published on her life and times, and these have aided immeasurably in our understanding of the complex nature of Florence Nightingale. And I don't want to mistakenly fault the teleplay for not having the benefit of future research. History changes as events reveal themselves over the blanket of time.

Yet, the drama failed to exploit the information it had on hand at the moment to any large degree, taking a middle of the road stance based more on mythology than real life. It did further injustice by embellishing the myth even more with Hollywood half-truths.

And it could be that the complexity of her life is too difficult for any one film to examine. Many are mystified by her, as she both mesmerized and infuriated people all at the same time--perhaps herself most of all. She is both scion and Saint, linguist and mathematician, prolific researcher and writer, a mystic, a healer, and beacon of hope to generations, a national heroine.

When you are all that, where is there room for the "real" you?

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