Dr. Lucille (2000) TV

 

 

 

Director:  George Mihalka. 

Starring:  Marina Orsini (Dr. Lucille Teasdale), Massimo Ghini (Dr. Piero Corti), Louis Gossett Jr. (David Mulera), Vanessa Cooke (Sister Agnes), Robert Whitehead (Brother Tony), Barbara-Marie Venter (Dominique), Leigh Greyvenstein (Young Dominique), Tumisho Masha (Matthew), Mpho Lovinga (Blessing), Makalo Mofokeng (Idi Amin Dada).

doctor working in Uganda

 

1985.  Northern Uganda.  Gulu Postal Station.  A postman named Blessing on his way to Dr. Lucille's hospital steps on a land mine.  He is brought to the hospital.

Flashback. 1959. Montreal. Dr. Lucille Teasdale does the surgery in a Montreal hospital.  When the mother of the patient learns that it was a woman who did the surgery she is shocked and angry.  She wanted a male to do the surgery.  Later she goes to a party which the Italian Dr. Piero Corti attends.  He is very interested in Lucille.  She leaves the party and he follows.  He asks her to go to dinner with him and she agrees. 

1961. Besana, Italy.  Dr. Corti with his brother and father asks the cardinal for help in raising funds to expand a medical clinic in Uganda.  In the evening he goes to dinner with Lucille.  She tells him that she is going to Montreal to practice medicine.  Piero asks her if she could be his chief surgeon for three months of the summer in Uganda.  She is doubtful, but Piero keeps up the pressure and the sales pitch and she agrees. 

St. Mary's Hospital, Uganda.  Lucille performs a caesarian section for the first time in her life.  There is a lot of blood loss for the woman and so Lucille donates blood for a transfusion for her own patient.  Nearing the end of her stay for the summer, at a bar with Piero she meets New York lawyer David Mulera, a Ugandan, and takes a liking to him. Piero takes Lucille home and they kiss for the first time.  He asks her if she would marry him and stay with him in Uganda.  She is not impressed by his presentation.

The next morning she leaves.  Not far from the hospital, however, she tells her driver that this is just not fair:  "I had plans."  She has the driver turn the jeep around and take her back to the hospital.  She marries Piero.

1962.  Independence Day for Uganda from the British.  David Mulera is a District Commissioner of the area.  He is now close friends with Lucille and Piero.  Lucille is pregnant. 

1970.  Eight years later.  Dominique Corti is eight years old.  She plays with her friends Matthew and Blessing.  Over the radio comes the news of the coup in Uganda with the new leader Idi Amin.  There is heavy fighting in the capital.  Later Idi Amin and his soldiers pay a visit to the hospital.  Piero and Lucille tell the dictator that they have opened a nursing school and are at present a teaching hospital. 

Three months later.  The dying and wounded arrive at St. Mary's Hospital.  Idi Amin's soldiers are out of control. David Mulera comes to Piero and Lucille's place to receive some medical attention.  He was beaten up by some soldiers.  The doctors tells David that he is in danger.  Piero offers to drive him to the border with Kenya.  David hesitates, but Piero insists.  As they near the border, they are stopped at a check point.  They are forced out of the jeep and man-handled.  Piero does some fast talking and gets them out of trouble.  They are allowed to proceed ahead. 

Back at St. Mary's, Lucille has not received word about her husband and David. One night Piero just shows up at her bedside.  She is very relieved to see him again.  The two decide to send their daughter to Milan, Italy so she will be safe from all the violence in Uganda.  Nikki resents being force to leave Uganda.

Nine years later, after the fall of Idi Amin.  For the second time, Lucille pricks herself while operating.  Piero complains to her that she is working too fast and constantly cutting herself.  Nikki comes back, but she is still somewhat resentful, especially toward her mother.  The young lady heads out to visit Matthew and Blessing, her childhood friends.  Matthew tells her that he wants to be a medical doctor like Dr. Lucille. 

Lucille sees a female patient who is very thin and has numerous skin lesions.  She is somewhat bewildered as to the diagnosis and wonders if it is related to what some in Africa have called the slims.  She asks:  "What is going on here?" 

Nikki goes back to Italy, but this time Matthew is going with her to study medicine.  Piero has a heart attack but survives. 

Six years later.  David Mulera shows up at the hospital and Piero and Lucille are very happy to see him again.  The refugees have just been pouring into the hospital and its grounds.  David warns them to be aware of the rebels, many of which are twelve-year old boys with weapons.  Lucille is coughing a lot and Piero thinks she has malaria.  Piero mentions to Lucille that David thinks that they should close down the hospital and Lucille says that maybe he is right.  The have been losing doctors.  Finally some good news.  Matthew comes back to be a doctor at the hospital despite the fact that Uganda is still a war zone.  Lucille tells Piero that she has AIDS, but Piero doesn't want to believe it.

Back to the present. 1985.  On his way over to the hospital, Blessing steps on a land mine.  He is taken to see Dr. Lucille, but he is so badly wounded that there is no hope for him.  He dies in Lucille's arms.  The soldiers come again to cause problems for the hospital.  Matthew is now placed in control of the hospital. 

Milan, Italy.  Accompanied by Nikki, Piero and Lucille receive the Order of Merit for their great humanitarian work in Uganda.  Nikki tells her mother the good news that she is going to go to medical school.  Back in Uganda, Lucille receives a letter from the Italian doctor who examined her confirming the diagnosis of AIDS.  He gives her from one to two years to live. 

The soldiers come yet again.  They start to create chaos.  But this time, the women at the hospital stand up to the soldiers and tell them that they will not hurt their doctors and will not destroy the hospital.  They are able to chase the soldiers away from the hospital. 

Eleven years later. 1996.  Dr. Lucille dies of AIDS.  Piero continues their work in Uganda. 

 

An o.k. movie.  You have to know something about Ugandan history to really follow what is going on.  At times it seems that Lucille was the reluctant humanitarian and at times she did a lot of complaining.  She had wanted to practice medicine in her native Montreal, but Piero used his personal appeal to get her to and then to keep her in Uganda.  But she still definitely deserved the medal she was awarded for her humanitarian services. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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