“In Love And War”, Movie Review

Character of an American Red Cross nurse Ms. Agnes von Kurowsky, played by a beautiful and very talented actress Sandra Bullock in “In Love and War”, is one of the most realistic and convincing portrayals of a nurse in modern cinema. This movie was filmed in 1996 by Richard Attenborough, and it is based on a real life-story, sourced from Ms. Kurowsky’s diary, about the relationship of Ernest Hemingway, a worldwide known writer, with his lover, Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky. Actually, the idea of this movie was not directed on promoting nursing activity, or showing the difficulties and problems nurses can meet in their work.  But after watching this masterpiece, any spectator can learn many details about such honorable activity like nursing, and find many reasons to begin respecting and admiring these courageous hard-working ladies, who are in need in any moment by so many people.

The movie shows, what nursing was all about in difficult times of the World War I, when there was no advanced medical technology, no proper medical facilities, and sometimes even no proper medications. An Austrian nurse von Kurowsky, who served for the needs of wounded soldiers during the war events in Northern Italy, is a devoted lady, dedicated to her daily routine in an improvised medical hospital. It is not clear for the audience, if Ms. von Kurowsky had some good medical education or not. All we know is that she became a volunteer and started nursing in hospitals next to battle fields. Such work requires extreme fortitude and takes plenty of human efforts. Very frequently in the movie Nurse Agnes is shown doing easy (like permanent ministering of the wounds) and sophisticated medical procedures (like assisting in operations, or doing would irrigation).

Among the other characters, including nurses and different medical personnel, Agnes von Kurowsky can be marked by her calm temper, recollection and composure in any situation, mercifulness and commiseration. She can understand needs of her patients very well and always provides them all with her care and attention, that’s why many soldiers in the hospital seem to like her. In the scenes with the other medical specialists Ms. Von Kurowsky always behaves with respect and dignity, but also in interaction with doctors she demonstrates her high professionalism. She insists on canceling of leg amputation for her patient, intending to care about his wound permanently, so his leg can be saved. She does everything possible and her work ends with total rehabilitation of the wounded limb.

From this movie it is difficult to make conclusions about nursing from demographic point of view, because in those times the majority of men were directly involved in military activity. That’s why generally women used to become nurses-volunteers. But, at the same time, there are a number of male doctors, surgeons and other professionals, appearing in some scenes. Also, there are mostly young and single nurses can be seen in the movie, like Ms. von Kurowsky and her pretty friend, Elsie ‘Mac’ MacDonald.

During all the scenes medical personal is presented as people with very high personal values and moral. Hard circumstances of work, abundance of wounded soldiers around make nurses and medical specialists work days and nights without sleep, forgetting own needs and requirements. All the nurses and doctors are organized and very motivated, because they are in the war, and they are fighting for thousands human lives. That is why being nurse can not be associated with career in such situation, it is rather a mission. And personal achievements of every single person in the hospital are very simple: minimal human losses, minimal amount of deaths every day.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of nursing in these circumstances. In some episodes director emphasizes this, showing dozens of suffering eyes of wounded soldiers, crying for relief, help and support of nurses. Moreover, being far away from home, Red Cross nurses serve for their patients like loving mothers and sisters, taking care tirelessly every day and sharing all possible difficulties. Also, the remarkable fact is that there is always enormous fear and excitement in each minute of their lives and activity during the war, because presence of battle fields so close to the hospitals can be very dangerous.

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