Florence Nightingale (2008) Movie Script

(Rowdy chatter and whooping)
What's all the racket for?
War's over, brother.
Peace broke out.
That's nice.
We just won a war, Prime Minister,
and now it appears we've lost
its greatest heroine.
Lost track of her, ma'am, for the time being.
Well, where is she?
l understand the Lord Mayor
was arranging a parade.
The Royal Fusiliers.
She was last seen entering a convent of nuns
in Bermondsey.
- Catholic Nuns?
- Yes, ma'am.
Are we still in England?
l thought you knew the family.
l do.
Highly respected people.
And yet their daughter...
l would say she was always...unusual, ma'am.
(Blast of whistle)
One bundle.
All aboard!
(Train whistle toots)
(War cries)
(Bird caws)
Miss Florence!
Hello, Watson.
Help! Help!
Piano introduction
One dark lonely night
on Crimea's dread shore
There was bloodshed and fighting
the morning before
The dead and the dying lay bleeding around
Some crying for help...
- Help!
..but none could be found
What we need is a miracle
A blooming, human miracle
We need someone to help us where we lie
To make us well
Cos we don't want to die
So what we need is a miracle
A miracle down here right now
(Light applause)
Then God sent his angel to succour the brave
Ten thousand she saved
from an untimely grave
The wounded they love her,
as it can be seen
She's the soldier's preserver
They call her their queen...
Hello, Queenie!
What we got was a miracle!
A blooming, human miracle!
We got a lady when all else did fail
Who made us well,
O, bless Miss Nightingale!
What we got was a miracle
A miracle down here, right now!
(Cheering and applause)
- Rest, rest, and more rest.
- Thank you, Doctor, we'll see to it.
Do you know what they're calling her?
The soldier's preserver.
- Who calls her that?
- All sorts, ma'am. lt's from a song.
A song about Florence?
- Oh, my poor, brave, little girl.
- Come, come, my dear.
FLORENCE: My beloved mother and father,
how they fought to keep me at home,
fought all my plans and dreams for myself.
But now that l'm a national heroine,
how proud they are.
They even call me brave.
Brave? For doing my duty?
The soldiers, they were the brave ones.
Lying there strapped down
while their shattered legs were hacked off
and no chloroform for the lower ranks!
l'm still in a rage about it.
Still there.
The tree.
The little bench.
The garden where all my troubles first began.
But then, if Scripture is to be believed,
isn't a garden where all our troubles first began?
l was so young.
l was innocent.
No thoughts of war or disease.
My only struggle how to escape from a life
that was poisoning me with vanity
and social expectations.
But one day something happened
that changed me forever.
l remember...sunlight so bright, too bright,
then a voice.
Really, a voice. l was being asked...
No, l was being told, in no uncertain terms,
that my life belonged to God,
that he had work for me to do.
Yes, Lord, let me think of thy will,
only of thy will.
Let me serve you, you alone.
But how could l?
l had to admit God's message
was sadly lacking in details.
What exactly was l to do?
All l knew was that l was being stifled,
no food for my head, no food for my heart,
slowly dying on a diet of triviality.
l prayed, ''God, show me a way out,
teach me, tell me.''
And yet...when he did at last,
and l answered the call...
..oh, the things l saw.
No rest for me now, then...
not till the truth is told to all.
Listen to this.
An American has written a poem about the war.
Everyone's writing poems about the war, dear.
Well, this one's all the rage, apparently.
''Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,
Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,
Lo, in that house of misery,
a Lady with a lamp l see
She passes through the glimmering gloom
And flits and flits from room to room''
l doubt if our Florence
has ever flitted in her life!
Well, Mr Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
thinks she does, so who are we to argue?
- Oh.
- Are you all right?
Florence, what are you doing downstairs?
Please. Stop.
lf anyone asks me any more questions,
l'll buy a revolver and shoot them!
Well, anyone except the Queen.
What are they saying now?
Mr Longfellow has written a poem about you.
An entire army murdered
and what's being done about it?
Absolutely nothing!
Well, we shall have to see about that!
- l need some air.
- Florence! No! Not outside!
- You'll catch your death of cold!
- At least wear a coat!
My dear papa...always the sceptic,
never sure about anything.
Though years ago when l was struggling
to discover God's will for me,
he did at least try to understand my pain,
and help me.
l wish...
(Sighs) lf only...
lf only l could be satisfied
with a life that satisfies you.
l can't be.
But you make it so hard for yourself.
When l heard my call,
l didn't hear it would be easy.
Your call.
Papa, you've never believed in it,
not for a minute.
Have you?
- Well, l...
- l thought not.
You don't know what struggle is.
And so we continued to observe
our uneasy truce.
Deuced if l see how Turkey can stand up
for itself any more.
My mother played hostess to the powerful
and well connected,
and l, the dutiful daughter, attended.
The men talked politics,
the women talked husbands.
l hear the Bible is forbidden all over Russia.
One frequent guest was Sidney Herbert,
a rising star in Parliament.
He sympathised with my hopes and dreams.
ln years to come,
l would often turn to him for help.
Back then, though, my thoughts
were all taken up with matters of the heart.
Yes, l read that speech of yours, Sidney.
Exciting stuff.
Might there not be a case for compromise?
- After all, the Ottoman Empire...
- What's your point, sir?
My point is that the ''sick man of Europe''
may be past curing.
lsn't the real point that the Czar is a brutal tyrant,
and we have to stand up to tyranny
wherever we find it?
Even at home!
Quite so.
Nicely put.
l do believe we're in a drift to war.
l was talking to Palmerston
the other day at our club about it.
He's full bore at facing down the Russkis.
- A bit behind time but...
- What's that?
Young Monckton-Milnes.
He's become quite a regular visitor.
Useful, actually.
You can set your watch by him.
He's not that young.
He's practically middle-aged.
Do you know what happened
on this day five years ago?
No. Should l?
We'd all been invited to the Bonham Carters.
Your sister recited a poem.
You played the piano.
Something new by Mr Chopin.
- Badly, l'm sure.
- Yes, rather badly, l'm afraid.
And because of my poor performance,
that day must go down in history?
Oh, dear.
On that day we talked for the first time -
really talked, l mean.
And you said something l've never forgotten -
that if only people knew what a young girl
is thinking while she is playing the piano,
or busy embroidering. Do you remember?
lf only people knew she was actually imagining
extraordinary adventures.
With someone by her side
whom she had chosen
as her loving and loved companion in life.
Yes. lt's true.
l did say that.
..you must know by now
that everything you believe in,
everything you hold dear,
l do too.
- Richard, l...
- Look at me.
Do you think today...the two of them, perhaps?
Well? Florence?
What do you mean, nothing?
He proposed.
l said no.
No. Wait!
Do you realise what you've done?
Saved myself from a life of slavery!
Oh, my goodness, Florence, how could you?
l just couldn't. ls that so hard to believe?
You have kept that man dangling for five years!
He understood, he understood perfectly.
Better than you.
You did the same thing with the Nicholson boy
and now our families rarely speak
to one another!
- Would you kindly excuse me, please.
- Look at this!
Look at it!
Can any reasonable person want all this?
The linen! The china! The 56 pots of jam!
Well, if one is to entertain properly...
And to be treated like a piece of furniture,
nailed to an existence where you talk about
nothing but who's coming to dinner!
- What's happened?
- She said no.
- To Richard?
- Yes, she called it slavery.
But, Flo, you know you could have done
anything you liked with the poor man.
Look at Mama,
and the way she manages our dear Papa.
- Half the time he has no idea what's...
- Yes, Parthe, that will be quite enough.
Florence, you know l never asked you
to be anyone's slave.
l have been very indulgent.
l'm sure my mother never considered
what l thought.
The least you can do in common courtesy
is to listen to me.
l'll go out and l'll find work.
- Oh, my dear young lady...
- l will.
Think of me as your son, your vagabond son.
l won't cost you a penny.
lsn't that good? Marriage is expensive.
- lmagine the savings.
- l know what you have in mind.
This absurd notion of becoming a nurse,
which l will never agree to.
That is God's way for me.
Oh, don't bring God into this again!
lt has nothing to do with him and you know it!
l will not allow you to disgrace yourself...
emptying slop buckets,
living at the beck and call of lechers and drunks!
Have you any idea what goes on in hospitals?
No woman of character would ever...
Yes, dear?
Fanny, my love, the Colonel's just leaving.
What shall l say to him?
Tell him there's no tyranny like
the petty tyranny of a good English family!
She said no to Richard.
Why does she have to spoil everything?
You have to speak to that girl, Wen.
FLORENCE: After that, everything changed.
Dismayed but resigned, my parents gave in
and l set about acquiring the largest
hospital experience man or woman ever had.
ln truth, l lost Richard, but l gained my freedom.
And yet, l confess if l were to see him again,
even now...
l don't understand it,
l'm ashamed to understand it,
but not one day has passed
without my thinking of him.
(Knock at door)
Flo... Are you all right?
lt's nothing.
l'm over it - the Crimean fever, l mean.
l was quite ill.
Guess who's here.
He just arrived from Westminster.
- He has news!
- Really?
l knew he'd get the government to see sense.
FLORENCE: Nothing?
- Nothing at all?
- My dear,
the British public has had quite enough
of the ''Crimean Catastrophe''.
lt's over.
No, no, it's only just begun -
the catastrophe, l mean - with our silence.
You must help me, Sidney, you absolutely must.
You always have.
You can do it again. l know you can.
Otherwise these last two years
will have been for nothing.
Florence, l'm no longer Minister at War.
Just a plain old humble Member of Parliament,
making occasional speeches.
Very fine ''occasional'' speeches, Sidney,
if l may say so.
l brought you this.
You don't have to bring me presents.
Just tell me justice will be done.
May l see?
Sir John Hall, that miserable excuse
for a military surgeon.
Has he been court-martialled,
stripped of his command?
Entered a monastery perhaps,
to do some well-deserved penance?
Not quite.
Black-balled from his club at least?
He's been given a KCB.
Which stands for Knight of
the Crimean Burial grounds, l suppose.
- Flo!
- (Gasps)
What a beautiful brooch!
A bit overdone, isn't it?
But see who it is from!
''ln appreciation of her service - Victoria Reg...''
Her Majesty will be in Balmoral next week.
She wants to meet you and to talk.
l believe she may even be inclined to listen.
Now, this is important, Florence.
The Queen is very interested
in the fate of the army.
You must remember she thinks of it as her army,
that's the way to engage her interest.
Do you follow me?
Do try to be tactful, Florence.
Don't say anything that might upset Her Majesty.
Nothing about maggots and wounds
and frostbite and limbs falling off.
(Music starting and applause)
You're off to see the queen today!
Oh, do be careful what you say,
or you will quickly be excused
Her Majesty is not amused
by stories set to shock and scare
So listen to Mother and please beware!
We don't want to hear about maggots...
- Maggots!
We'd rather not learn about lice...
- No lice!
Just make everything pretty,
and jolly and happy and nice
- Nice!
We don't want to hear a soldier swear
Or listen to moaning and screams
We don't want to hear a single cough...
(Men cough)
To bother Her Majesty's dreams
WOMEN: Sweet dreams
Be sure never to tell her
about all the blood and the gore
Surely you know it's not right or polite
to make a queen faint on the floor
She's happy to hear of daring deeds
by soldier, colonel or toff
But never, not ever, no, never discuss...
The fingers that keep falling off!
The hands that keep falling off!
The legs that keep falling off!
The heads that keep falling off!
Cos everything keeps falling off!
May l offer you some tea, dear?
Thank you, ma'am.
- Please continue.
- Yes, ma'am.
We lost 1 0,000 men in six months,
mostly through gross incompetence,
and l came home to find that many of
the officers responsible have been promoted,
given honours, medals, titles.
Crimes were committed, terrible suffering
inflicted that could easily have been avoided...
Yes, Miss Nightingale, but what exactly
entitles you to be the judge of that?
l studied and visited all the hospitals in London,
Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome and Berlin.
l was twice in training
with the Protestant Deaconesses
at the Kaiserswerth lnstitute in Germany,
l spent one year as Superintendent
of a Harley Street nursing home.
l personally scrubbed the floors of sickrooms,
emptied bedpans.
l nursed cholera patients
whose bodies were a mass of...
Thank you.
And your parents permitted all of this?
They came to understand that l had a calling,
that this has truly been God's will for me.
l see.
And what is it you suggest we do about
these...crimes, as you call them?
A Royal Commission, ma'am.
A Royal Commission?
Nothing less than a Royal Commission
will bring out the truth.
lt's our sacred duty to the Crimean dead.
And if l may, Your Majesty,
it is also a heaven-sent opportunity to reform
the entire hospital system of the nation,
not just of the army...
Beg your pardon, ma'am, of your army.
Forgive me, ma'am,
it has been a lifelong dream of mine.
We shall...think about it.
Remarkable woman.
l wish we had her at the War Office.
l'll convey that sentiment to the Minister, ma'am.
Oh, and as to that Commission.
Yes, ma'am, l doubt whether
it's in the best interests of...
May l finish?
We do want our brave soldiers
to receive the very best care.
Please see to it.
The Commission?
The Commission, Prime Minister.
A difficult meeting.
l'm afraid the Queen was somewhat taken aback
by your proposal.
- Oh.
- Yes, a Royal Commission.
That could have consequences, ramifications.
- Well, l had hoped...
- And you were quite forceful.
l'm sorry, but...
However, l did prevail upon Her Majesty
to change her mind
and she has graciously agreed to allow the
Commission go forward under my supervision.
Thank you, my lord, thank you very much.
Yes, l remember one evening at the Verneys'
you were very eloquent
on the subject of nursing and so forth.
A worthy cause.
- Now, one minor detail.
- Of course.
l would like you to submit your evidence to me
in the form of a report, a confidential report.
There are...susceptibilities to be considered.
- Are we agreed?
- Yes.
Give my regards to your charming mother.
l hope to have the pleasure of seeing you
at the Devonshires' next weekend.
Oh, l'm afraid you won't see me.
l'll be writing my report.
To work, then.
(Muffled voices)
The suite, ma'am.
The room, ready and waiting for you.
Er...please if there's anything
that you need...
Thank you.
They want a report from me, do they?
Then they shall have it.
This room shall be my War Office.
My family always stay here
when we come to London.
The fine old Burlington Hotel.
This room is ample,
and compared with my lodgings in the Crimea,
utter luxury.
But how could l sleep in comfort when so many
of my children lie in unmarked graves?
l call them ''my children'', those ordinary soldiers
who died in pain and silence, uncomplaining.
Though the officers called them brutes,
the scum of the earth.
My children!
What a tale l have to tell!
How eager and proud they all were
when they first set out.
The very names of those regiments
made our hearts beat faster.
The Royal Dragoons,
the Grenadier Guards, the 93rds,
the lnniskillings, the Coldstream Guards,
the Royal Fusiliers.
Off they went with their brand-new rifles
and pretty sparkling uniforms...
..off to teach the Russian bear a lesson.
The finest army in the world, we thought.
lnvincible, we thought.
Back home in a month...
..we thought!
Come on, everybody, let's hear it for
our brave British boys in British uniform!
Trumpet fanfare
l don't believe it! ls it?
Oh, no, it isn't!
AUDlENCE: Oh, yes it is!
You're right!
lt's our lightning, frightening, fighting,
Light Brigade!
Oh, we're the glorious Light Brigade!
The put-the-Russkis-to-flight brigade
For glory, Queen and country too
We draw our steel and shout haroo!
The lightning, frightening, fighting
Light Brigade
Who never, not ever,
no, never have been afraid
Oh, we're the glorious Light Brigade!
The put-the-Russkis-to-flight brigade
You've never seen soldiers like us before
Who boldly charge as the cannons roar
The lightning, frightening, fighting
Light Brigade
Who never, not ever, no...
An army that had spent more time on
the parade ground than on the battlefield,
commanded by a dear old gentleman whose last
taste of action was Waterloo, 40 years before.
This force, incredibly,
due to the heroism of the common soldier,
won three battles against huge odds.
But the cost.
And those blundering generals.
l know this much.
lf any woman had managed her kitchen
the way our generals managed that campaign
she and her entire family would have been
reduced to the poorhouse in weeks.
As it was, the British Army was reduced to
a regiment of living skeletons,
dressed in rags, crawling with vermin.
And if they were wounded or got sick,
worse was waiting -
a death house in the shape of
the military hospital at Scutari.
(Water drips)
(Explosion booms)
The casualties mounted
and the death rate soared.
Thousands died of disease and neglect.
But the soldiers were writing home,
and The London Times sent out
its best reporter.
Before long, the appalling truth was known
in every English parlour.
Only then did we begin to understand the full
horror of what our men were going through.
Listen to this.
''lt is with feelings of anger and surprise
that the public will learn that no preparations
have been made
to care for our wounded in the Crimea.
Not only are there not sufficient surgeons,
there is not even linen to make bandages.
Arriving at the hospital, they lie in their
own waste, covered by a single blanket,
eating meat raw, stiff with salt
or rotten with maggots.
Not over breakfast, dear, please.
Let me see.
Excuse me, Papa.
At last l knew what l must do.
All my training could now be put to use.
But l needed an ally.
So l wrote to my dear friend, Sidney Herbert,
now a powerful member of the war cabinet.
As it happened, a letter from him
crossed with mine in the post.
HERBERT: Dear Miss Nightingale,
l have recently been receiving letters from ladies
offering to go out to the Crimea
and give medical care to our injured troops.
l know of only one person in England capable of
organising and directing such a scheme.
l suggest that you start interviewing
likely candidates as soon as possible.
Well, l wrote back immediately.
''Dear Mr Herbert, l have already begun.''
Which was only partly untrue.
l started the next day, only to discover
that while many called themselves nurses
few were fit to be chosen.
And why do you feel yourself qualified?
Well, when l read about it in the newspapers,
l cried buckets,
(Sniffs) and buckets,
and buckets.
Well, l just thought of those poor, poor boys,
how they must miss a woman's touch.
Well, l never did mind hard work
and l'm not easily shocked.
l just do my best and carry on.
Well, l won't deny,
the money will come in useful.
l take it we do get paid?
Good. How much?
How old?
Um...just turned 1 7...
..l think.
lt's my back. And my knees.
They're not what they used to be, you know.
At our convent in Bermondsey
we see every kind of disease and deformity.
You are a Catholic order, l believe?
We make it our business to save the body first.
Then and only then do we attend to the soul,
if that's what concerns you.
We leave in a week.
How many can you bring?
- (Cheering)
- Bravo!
(Booing and hissing)
War ain't no place for a woman
lt's only a place for a man
This foe we fight from morn till night
and beat him when we can
So don't come near to interfere
with the British battle plan
War ain't no place for a woman
lt's only a place for a man
Quite clear
lt's only a place for a man
lf war's no place for a woman
lt's hardly a place for a man
We'll ride the wave and try to save
as many as we can
We're Nightingale
And nurses
You'll thank us and not curse us
We'll rescue you from pain and fear
We'll bring you comfort and good cheer
We've come to hold your hand
War ain't no place for a woman
lt's really a masculine game
So when some females move in,
it's simply not the same
Just when the fun is starting,
you come with your ribbons and curls
Our only need's to do great deeds
and not be hobbled but utterly freed
From a gaggle of twittering,
dithering, simpering, whimpering...
We landed in Turkey
just as autumn gave way to winter.
My final choice of nurses were a mixed brigade,
requiring much drilling.
Some experienced, some less so.
Some happy just to be paid,
some there out of pure charity and love of God.
Follow me. Step lively.
Mind where you put your feet.
We had expected chaos
but nothing had prepared us
for those barracks at Scutari.
(Man screams)
Here, just across
a narrow strip of water from Constantinople,
the British High Command had established
the nearest thing l'd ever seen to hell on Earth.
lt was, in fact, the main hospital
for receiving the casualties from the Crimea.
lt was there l met Sir John Hall,
Chief Medical Officer for
the British Army in the East.
No chloroform for the lower ranks, Mr Davis.
Let us hear the man bawl lustily.
At least then we'll know he's still alive.
Fine. Carry on.
Ah, Miss Nightingale.
l'd heard you were coming.
And from what l've seen so far,
not a moment too soon.
Maybe so, and maybe not.
As l read the instructions from your friend,
the Right Honourable Sidney Herbert,
you are under the clear direction
of the medical staff here.
That means neither you nor any of your...''ladies''
will do anything without the express
written permission of a military doctor.
ln other words, Miss Nightingale,
here, in my hospital,
you are in charge of nothing,
with the exception of your personal laundry.
Am l clear?
But do let us know when you need help.
See to them.
- Do we have to give them rations, sir?
- Certainly not.
This way.
The quarters we were herded into
were squalid and cramped,
alive with vermin,
the air heavy with the stench of fever and death.
(Nurse cries out)
Oh, so that's where he went.
Been missing for a day or two.
Sorry about that, ladies.
We'll have it removed forthwith.
First, the strongest of you to the wash tubs.
Everyone else, let us have these floors swept,
the windows cleaned, that stove working.
- Where are the brooms?
- Brooms? That's a joke.
Find brooms.
lf you can't find them, make them.
That night we went to bed in the dark.
The next day we cleaned out our new home
and then...
lt was as if we had been sealed up
in our dingy little corner,
frozen out by Sir John Hall and his doctors.
Deliberately forgotten.
Was this why we had travelled
all across Europe?
We knew how much we were needed
and we knew the difference we could make.
This was the cruellest trial of all.
To wait, to have to listen to the screams of
the sick and dying was almost past endurance.
But l knew those gentlemen officers.
They saw us as twittering society do-gooders
in search of a fevered brow to mop
or a manly hand to hold
as a brave soldier slipped off to his maker.
Bless our dear little hearts.
They certainly did not want
some well connected female nuisance
giving instructions to their orderlies.
But l'd grown up with ministers of the realm
and titled bigwigs sitting at our dinner table.
l knew the little games. l knew the rules.
And l knew how to win.
So...we waited.
(Coughing and spluttering)
- Yes, what is it?
- Big battle.
lnkerman. Casualties, they're coming in. A lot!
- Sir John says can you...?
- Ladies! Follow me.
(Soldier screaming)
The three of you...
That was the moment of ''victory''.
We were liberated, set free to do
what we had trained for and had come to do.
But after victory comes counterattack,
in the shape of a system
seemingly designed to create confusion.
The officials in charge of supplies,
l soon discovered, were masters of red tape,
experts in obfuscation and delay.
l was clearly marked out as the enemy.
l needed allies,
and l knew of only two sources l could rely on.
the Good Lord,
who never left me through all my trials,
and his chief angel of mercy,
my old friend Sidney Herbert.
Dear Mr Herbert, the supply officers
fix their attention on the correctness of their
book-keeping as the primary object of life.
Last week we had run out of bread, soap,
carrots, poultices and many other necessities.
l went to the supply officer and asked him,
was he expecting these things from England?
''No, '' he said.
''Are you doing anything
about purchasing them?''
''No, '' he said.
''Can they be had in the local town?''
''lf they can, l don't know how to get them, ''
was his answer.
So, Mr Herbert, l went out myself
and l bought them with my own money.
ln short, l am now a general dealer
in socks, shirts, knives and forks, tin baths...
The meat is not cooked, the water is not boiled.
The cooking is done by drunken soldiers.
l must refer again
to the deficiency of knives and forks here.
The men tear their food like animals.
Will you send us 1,000 mops, 3,000 tin plates...
l go about making the orderlies
empty huge tubs of human waste.
The mortality is frightful. 30 in the last 24 hours.
Christmas Day, 1 854.
The state of the troops
who return here is frost-bitten, starved, ragged.
No wonder they die in their hundreds.
No washing has been performed for the men,
neither of body linen nor of bed linen
except by ourselves.
The consequences of this are fever, cholera.
l shall endure.
l shall not break my heart of disappointment
at the total inefficiency
of the hospital system here.
l shall bear it willingly.
l was called to do this work
and l will fight on for God and for the right,
for they are worth fighting for.
l now see clearly what must be done.
lf these conditions are happening here,
they are happening elsewhere.
l have written a plan for the systematic
re-organisation of these hospitals.
Please make sure, Mr Herbert, that
it reaches the highest levels of the government.
l have more and more reason to believe
that these hospitals are the kingdom of hell,
but l fervently believe they can be made into...
The kingdom of heaven.
Get some sleep.
l don't know how your body keeps going.
- Why doesn't this silly thing...?
- Here, let me.
Thank you, Reverend Mother.
And my body is strong. lt's my spirit.
l get so discouraged.
How could even Jesus not be?
How did he persist?
He was the love of God incarnate.
He could love the good even in the worst.
Could Jesus love Sir John Hall
when he forbids the men chloroform?
lf Sir John Hall sins,
l believe the sacrifice of Jesus can redeem it.
Sometimes l think l expect too much from God.
Well, he is God Almighty, Florence,
and not your private secretary.
l suppose not.
lf he were, l'd say,
''Send more bedpans, Lord.''
You can't get around it, Florence.
God is in charge, not you.
(Bell rings)
Time for rounds.
They love you, you know...
those soldiers.
Then l am most blessed.
Spring came,
and so did the government inspectors,
sent out after Sidney Herbert
''spoke to the right people''.
Gradually we began to have something that
looked more like a real hospital,
staffed by nurses
who were disciplined and professional.
But those poor fellows
who died in front of our eyes that first winter,
they will not let me rest
until l tell the world of all they suffered.
- Who is it?
- Dr Farr.
- Just a moment.
The wonderful Doctor Farr,
a member of my unofficial war cabinet.
He brings me such charming gifts -
sets of figures all neatly tabulated.
- Pardon me, do l intrude?
- No, Dr Farr, come in.
- No work today, Miss Nightingale?
- Yes, of course.
l have to go out, but l'll be back in an hour.
What have you got for me?
Some very interesting comparative death rates.
Excellent. Will you write up a precis for me?
We'll look it over when l get back.
- Meanwhile you can wish me luck.
- Luck? Why? Where are you going?
lnto battle.
l know what you're thinking.
''Here comes that bothering woman again.''
Oh, no, not at all.
A delightful interlude in my all too humdrum day.
Then, like all good interludes, l shall be brief.
l come on behalf of the Crimean dead.
Ah, yes, the Royal Commission.
Which still has not met, and has not even
received your signature, Prime Minister.
lndeed, yes, well,
you must understand there are...
- How shall l put it?
- l know. Susceptibilities?
Tell me, my lord,
in all candour, do you mean to shelve it?
- Shelve it?
- To silence me. To shut me up?
Miss Nightingale, you must understand,
this is the start of the grouse-shooting season.
Yes, of course, those poor birds.
The point is, my dear,
all the important people are leaving town.
l understand.
Then perhaps with so many people at leisure,
now would be a good time to publish
my own narrative of the Crimean campaign.
l believe - correct me if l am wrong -
we agreed your report would be confidential.
lndeed we did.
And once it is fully commissioned
and l hand it over to you, it will be.
Until that happy moment,
l believe l have complete liberty
and Mr Russell of the Times
has already expressed such an interest
in a first-hand account of
my Crimean experiences.
Good day, my lord.
Ah. How went the battle?
- l think we won.
- Brilliant!
By the way,
you might want to look at my precis.
The mortality rates in each regiment...
- Wonderful. Let me see.
- You're sure you're not too tired?
l'm never tired when l see a column of numbers.
- Are you sure these figures are correct?
- Yes, of course.
Then we must go over them. Every one.
Pass me that book.
And the figures you gave me yesterday.
So there's no doubt.
Statistics tell us facts,
not who is to blame for them.
- l am to blame.
- l'm sure you did your best.
lt was not enough!
Dr Farr. Florence.
My dear young girl,
do you realise what you just did?
The papers for the Royal Commission
will be signed tomorrow.
l have it on the best authority. Well done, Flo.
And guess who will be chairman!
(Cork pops)
My poor men who endured so patiently.
l have been such a bad mother to you.
God, why have you forsaken me?
Guilty? How can you say that?
Because l am. Guilty as charged.
Nonsense, my dear, there's absolutely no proof.
No proof?
Scutari, last January,
mortality from disease 576 per 1 ,000.
At the front, same four weeks,
mortality from disease only 1 7 per 1 ,000.
At Scutari, a 25% greater chance of death
from diseases of the stomach and bowels.
Flo, please, these are just figures.
Just figures!
l murdered those men!
Come, come, everybody knows you saved lives.
All that soup you made,
all the knives and forks you procured.
Soup. Forks.
That first winter, a nurse came to me and said,
''There are some beds the men won't lie in.
They call them bad-luck beds.
Whoever goes to sleep in them
doesn't wake up again.''
''Nonsense,'' l said.
''Wash the sheets, dress the wounds,
feed the men and they'll get better.''
lt turned out they were right.
The whole hospital
was built over a lake of sewage.
Which of course was then cleaned out.
- Too late.
- Why?
Exhaustion from my fights with doctors.
Arrogance. l was God's own handmaid, wasn't l,
so of course l knew best.
But you had absolutely no authority.
No, but l had Sidney Herbert in London,
at the centre of power.
l wrote to him every week
and not once did l ask for help with sanitation.
l asked for pillows.
lt took a Government Commission,
four months later, to flush out the sewers.
Do you know what they found when they dug up
the channel that brought us our drinking water?
A dead horse.
And all the time l was saying,
''Send your patients here.
We'll take care of them. We're professionals.
We're nurses.''
They should never have listened to me.
They should have stayed away.
Oh, my poor children!
lt's over.
You did your duty.
Nothing more to be done now.
- Yes, there is.
- What?
Tell the truth.
lf that means l'm to be crucified with other
murderers like Sir John Hall on each side of me,
isn't that the traditional way?
And what exactly would that achieve? Flo!
Flo, please, child, think carefully.
Martyrs seldom leave anything behind them
but their ashes.
Better a useless martyr
than a cowardly deserter.
l trust you slept well.
ls it morning?
And Lord Palmerston is expecting your report.
- Oh.
- ls that it?
- Yes.
- All done?
lt is finished.
Let it go.
l trust you found Miss Nightingale's report
of use, your lordship.
Extraordinary. Most valuable.
So you will present it to the Commission?
Florence, one must consider the public mood.
Exactly. The nation wants to move on.
And let us not forget, our Queen,
nay, the whole of Her Majesty's government,
are dedicated to reform.
But for reform, we must look to the future.
And not fight old battles, Florence.
Well put, Sidney.
lf l were to publish my own report?
Ah, but there is that Confidentiality Clause.
Besides, the public would not stand for the loss
of one of their greatest heroines.
lt would set back the cause for those
very reforms you - and our gracious Queen -
so earnestly desire.
You do look tired, Florence.
So much work, it drains the system.
After two years fretting about the health of our
army, isn't it time you took care of your own?
What we need is a miracle
A miracle down here right now
Then God sent his angel to succour the brave
Ten thousand she saved
from an untimely grave
The wounded, they love her
As it can be seen
She's the soldier's preserver
They call her their queen
Hello, Queenie!
What we got was a miracle
A blooming, human miracle
We got a lady when all else did fail...
- What's going on?
- What's happened?
Not to worry, ladies and gentlemen.
She will be fine.
There's attendants round her now.
Stay where you are. She will be all right.
She's faced worse things than this.
She'll be all right.
Please keep your seats.
Keep your seats.
Look! She's coming round already.
Rule Britannia
Britannia rules the waves
Britons never, never never shall be slaves
Rule Britannia
Britannia rules the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves
Rule Britannia
Britannia rules the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves
That is heartening news, Prime Minister.
Yes, ma'am, thank you.
And when does this Commission of ours
expect to start hearing evidence?
Next week, l believe.
And will Miss Nightingale appear before it?
Ah, no. lt was decided to submit her evidence
in writing, through me.
l see.
And how is the dear girl?
Somewhat indisposed, ma'am,
after her Herculean efforts.
l believe she's taking the waters in Malvern Spa.
Tell her we wish her a speedy recovery.
l'll convey that sentiment to her father
when l see him next.
- Excuse me.
- Mr Nightingale.
Excuse me, please.
She gave strict instructions
not to be disturbed.
- Where is my daughter?
- Especially by her family.
l have to see my daughter.
l've been told she hasn't eaten for a week.
We can't exactly force her to eat.
- You didn't even call a doctor.
- l'm sure she's fine, sir.
Mr Nightingale!
- Florence?
l'm aware that we need to talk.
We haven't always done that, have we?
l'm also aware that there've been times in my life
when l've been too distant.
Too much in my books, my thoughts.
But you know l always loved you.
Don't you?
Yes, Papa.
Yes, l do.
And yet, in a way,
l feel l was always a little afraid of you.
You, of me?
Well, you were... are so independent,
so headstrong.
Well, l had to be, didn't l?
Of course, you know, l had ambitions, too.
''William Edward Nightingale, MP.''
l thought that had a nice ring to it.
Better than ''good old Wen, decent chap,
but not much good at getting the vote out''.
Well, it wasn't to be.
l've been left behind in the race,
a lot of races.
Whereas you, on the other hand...
l'm sure if there's a House of Commons
in the next life, you'll be a Member.
Perhaps my real calling in life
was to be your teacher when you were little.
Except, you see,
one can be wrong about one's calling.
Oh, Flo, be patient with yourself.
Haven't l always said
that the world needs pioneers?
Yes. Many times.
And you are just such a pioneer.
But if you're a pioneer
and you lead others into a swamp, into death,
how can you not blame yourself?
What if it's all part of a plan?
What is?
The mistakes.
So when God called me,
he called me to make mistakes?
But you don't believe in my call, do you?
l believe in you, my little genius.
You think the call was just my own voice,
don't you?
Nothing more.
Well, l think once l did.
But now l...
- Does it matter?
- lt matters to me.
- What l think?
- Yes, Father.
Then l think that you are human.
And that God is God.
He teaches us all through our mistakes.
And all we common mortals can do
is work through trial and error.
And for my errors l'm now on trial.
And what about Jesus?
What do you mean?
l heard you in the church,
when you were praying,
when you thought you were alone.
''My God, why hast thou forsaken me?''
l meant,
l once felt so close to God
- and now...
- l know.
And l meant that you're
not the first to feel that despair.
And yet, when you look back on it,
that suffering led to great good.
- But l'm not Christ.
- Precisely.
Flo, let God be the judge.
He is in charge, not you.
Come on.
Well, my dear, what now?
Do you know, if l had my health,
l think l should like to see what's going on
in our English hospitals.