This romantic historical drama is based on the diaries of Agnes Von Kurowsky, who while serving as a nurse during World War I had a love affair with a young man who would later become one of the great literary figures of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway. In 1918, 18-year-old Hemingway has volunteered to fight in the great war; while he goes into battle imagining it to be a lark, he soon discovers that the realities of warfare are far more grim, and during a shelling attack in Italy, his leg is severely wounded. Hemingway has taken a great deal of shrapnel, and the doctors at the field hospital decide that amputation would be the quickest and most effective way to deal with the injury. However, the idea of losing a leg horrifies Hemingway, and he pleads with Agnes (Sandra Bullock), the Austrian nurse looking after him, not to let the doctors cut off his limb. Moved by Hemingway's concern, Agnes convinces the doctors to pursue other treatments, and she looks after him during his long and difficult convalescence. Love and passion bloom between the young and naive soldier and the 26-year-old nurse, but while he's eager for her to return home with him as he follows his muse as a writer, she regards him not as the love of her life but as a passing fling and thinks that he's too young to marry. Agnes eventually sends Hemingway a "Dear John" letter; later Hemingway would use her as the basis for several characters in his novels and short stories, not always flatteringly. In Love and War was directed by Richard Attenborough, previously an Academy Award winner for Gandhi.
by Mark Deming synopsis