1. FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE - DVD (2008)
This BBC drama (2008) explores the emotional and spiritual trauma suffered by Florence Nightingale on her return from the Crimean War. After witnessing the horrors of the war first hand, Florence Nightingale (Laura Fraser) campaigned strongly for an investigation when she finally returned to England. The findings however, that many of the soldiers in her care died as a result of her own failings, caused her to re-evaluate her life's mission, breaking her in mind and spirit.
2. MISS POTTER - DVD ( 2007)
The life and story of the woman who created Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle shows that Beatrix Potter was a headstrong pioneer in Edwardian England who had to fight for success in a man's world. She became a celebrity whose secret love affair with her publisher Norman Warne, haunted her throughout her life. Both funny and sad, this makes great use of the beautiful Lake District landscape and stars Renee Zellweger as Beatrix and Ewan McGregor as Norman.
3. THE GOVERNESS - DVD (1998)
Rosina da Silva (Minnie Driver) is well-educated and unusually curious for a female in an era (1830s) when a woman's primary focus is keeping house and attending to the needs of her family. So when her Jewish father is murdered on the street and leaves behind numerous debts, she forsakes an arranged marriage to an older suitor, transforms herself into Mary Blackchurch - a Protestant of partial Italian descent - in order to conceal her heritage, and accepts a position as a governess for a Scottish family living on the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides
Why I saw these movies
I'm keenly interested in the woman question from Austen to the Victorian Age, from the beginning of the Suffragette Movement to Virginia Woolf's writings. I take an eager interest in reading books and watch films that can help me to understand and know more about it.
The idealised, stereotyped Victorian "angel of the hearth" model was refused and defied by the protagonists of these stories.
These three different women lived more or less in the same period and experienced the same men's society full of prejudices and obstacles against their freedom and independence.
They fought against them, strongly believing in their right to freedom and to the acknowldegement of their talent and intelligence.
For instance, both in Florence Nightingale and in Miss Potter there are scenes in which the protagonist, arguing with her mother, states her refusal of marriage , her right not to make a living becoming a man's wife and his childern's mother. Miss Potter renounced her freedom only for love, Miss Nightingale renounced love to be free to follow her ideals.
Beatrix Potter, instead, fought against her family to be free not to marry, first. Then, at the age of 32, after meeting Norman Warne her publisher, she claimed the right to marry the man she loved. But her upper class family considered him unsuitable for being a tradesman. Though there are some historical inaccuracies in this biopic, though many people didn't like Renée Zellweger's cast for the role, I found it is a delightful Victorian fairy - tale- like movie and I was glad to see it, also for the appeal of its romance, settings and social implications.
The third film, The Governess (1998) is an accomplished, touching and original movie, beautifully craft with a good cast including a brilliant Minnie Driver and a very young Jonathan Rhys Meyers (as Henry Cavendish). Also Rosina /Mary finds her way to indepence, in the end: she becomes a photographer noted for her distinct images of Jewish people, a very modern woman with a very modern profession.