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Anzac Girls

I'm not sure how I ran across this mini-series.  I think I was looking at something on Amazon, and this was one of the recommended titles or something like that.  I thought it would be something a little different from the usual English period dramas that I watch.  With the centennial of the beginning of the first World War, there are several mini series and such that have been released--most are Australian or British productions.  Hollywood tends to focus more on World War II (there are always World War II movies coming out every year... hardly any about World War I with the recent exception of Spielberg's War Horse).  There is also the upcoming mini-series The Crimson Field which will air this summer on PBS about a British nurse (I think) serving in a military hospital in France during World War I.  It's based on a true story.  As it happens Anzac Girls is also based on a true story originally told by Peter Rees in his book, The Other ANZACS.  I haven't read the book, and it wasn't until I watched the mini-series that I realized it was adapted from a book.

Set first in Cairo, Egypt, and Lemnos Island, Greece, before shifting to the European theater, this six part mini-series follows a unit of nurses serving with the Australian Army during World War I.  The series focuses on five nurses as they serve in sometimes harsh conditions while tending to the wounded and ill soldiers under their care in the sometimes hastily set up, temporary hospitals.  In addition to tending to their patients and contending with being in a war zone far from home, the nurses must also struggle to prove that women do have a place in the Army.  We see the nurses' dedication to their work, their sense of duty to their country, their compassion for the patients under their care, and the care and friendship they have for one another.  The mini-series covers a lot of ground in just six episodes: it opens about a year into the war in 1915 and concludes three years later in 1918 with the end of the war.  This means that many months are covered in each episode and the time line can jump ahead months at a time every episode which can be very confusing.

Some thoughts I have [SPOILERS]:

--Sister Ross King has three suitors and almost as many proposals by the end of the first episode.  One of which comes from a soldier as she's tending his wounds in the hospital.  Her response is "what about my [nursing] work?!"  Girl, just say, 'dude, I'm just not that into you' (because you aren't!) or whatever the 1915 version of that is.

--Later Sister Ross King is all in for Lt. Moffitt, but I'm holding out hope that she ends up with Major Leopold by series end.  Something about the dialog during his second proposal reminds me of Mr. Darcy (from Pride and Prejudice), which I take as a sign that I may have finally watched one too many British period dramas, but I DON'T CARE.

--All Sister Cooke does is follow her wounded husband from hospital to hospital and back to Australia and then back again to war.  I'm over these shenanigans by about episode three, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised BECAUSE THAT'S WHY SHE JOINED UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.  Then she gets all bent out of shape when he expects her to take leave on a whim's notice to meet his parents in London with him.  Girl, you made your bed, now lie in it--this is what you've been doing all war long, so don't be surprised when he's come to expect it.

--Sad to see Sister Haynes go back to Australia with her husband, even though it is technically a happy ending for them because he can no longer serve in the Army due to injuries.  She was my favorite nurse, and I would totally watch the Sister Haynes Dooley show.

If you're a fan of war movies or mini-series, I recommend you try out this one.  Despite its shortcomings, it shares the stories of the capable women who served, and we don't often hear these stories.  Also if you're a die-hard fan of British period dramas, you may also like this mini-series.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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