Anzac Girls once again justifies television's importance
ANYONE who dismisses television as a frivolous diversion that wastes time instead of contribute anything decent to society must pause and remember Anzac Girls.
The six-part mini-series started on the ABC this week, and was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.
It tells the story of the Australian and New Zealand nurses who tended to the wounded from right in the thick of battles in Gallipoli and the Western Front. They were in makeshift hospitals, triage tents in the desert or medical ships at sea.
Their story is little known, their heroism and courage previously hidden in the darkness. How utterly brilliant now that the light illuminating their courage shines in.
While these women were not injured physically as badly as the men they treated, I am sure they both carried deep emotional scars from the trauma that no doubt lasted a lifetime.
And yet, where are the documentaries, where are the books, where is the respect in our culture for the sacrifice they made and horror they endured?
This series rightly highlights a story so important to our nation's fabric, as much as the shame that it has not been told before.
I guess I always assumed groups of suitably-qualified medical people attended to the dead and wounded during a war, I just never considered exactly what they went through.
A few familiar faces are here, including the ageless Caroline Craig, Dustin Clare, Anna McGahan and Todd Lasance. And John Waters gets his accent on in tonight's episode.
It has a fairly sumptuous feel and the costumes are excellent, although I couldn't help but feel it needed one more layer of authenticity: more dirt on the injured men's uniforms, less self-conscious extras, more background noise and some bricks to weigh down those darn suitcases being waved about. This, and obviously empty coffee cups, are my pet hate!
The script is earnest and proper, even if a little slow at times, and the characters are worth caring about.
The emergency hospital scenes are gruesome and gripping and the husband-and-wife twist with the connection to the former Prime Minister is intriguing.
But TV tricks aside, this is an important series. It makes comment on both the politics and futility of war, as well as the frightening, blinkered commitment of the day to duty.
Mostly though, it's a celebration of some truly remarkable Aussie and Kiwi women.