HANDMAIDENS AND BATTLEAXES
Runtime: 55 min
Produced In: Australia
Directed By: Rosalind Gillespie
Produced By: Rosalind Gillespie
A major documentary classic from 1989, HANDMAIDENS AND BATTLEAXES offers a passionate global history of nursing, using Australia as a case study but with comparative input from American and British counterparts. It highlights the complex social, political and professional challenges faced by nurses today.
The film won the AFI award for best Australian documentary in 1990, and was featured in a number of international film festivals.
Throughout history, the perception of nurses has ranged from wise women to witches, sots to ministering angels, handmaidens to battleaxes. Over centuries, the professional role of the nurse has changed dramatically. Originally the nurse held an independent, curative position in healing the sick. Most of this responsibility was progressively displaced, and for too long in the modern era, nurses were locked into supportive and secondary roles in the health professions.
HANDMAIDENS AND BATTLEAXES asks the question, 'Why and how did this happen?' It examines the psychological and sociological influences that have held the profession in check and fed age-old prejudices.
HANDMAIDENS AND BATTLEAXES uses rare archival footage, dramatic re-enactments, personal interviews and photographic stills collected from nursing colleges from three continents. These elements successfully combine to give insight into the realities of the nursing profession that are still relevant today, more than three decades after the film was made.
Produced and directed by ROSALIND GILLESPIE RN
Cinematography – LAURIE McINNES
Sound Recordist – BRONWYN MURPHY
Editor – DIANA PRIEST
Art and Graphics – LEE WHITMORE
Music composed by CATHERINE FINNIS, JOHN GRAY and CAIX MEREDITH
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
© 1989, Silver Films