The Water Diviner by Debut Director Russell Crowe: Gallipoli’s Traumas

by DerdriuMarriner

The Water Diviner is an historical fictional war drama film by debut director Russell Crowe about Gallipoli’s battle casualties and traumas from 1915 on.

The Water Diviner describes Australians fighting German-allied Turks

The historical fictional war drama film The Water Diviner by debut director Russell Crowe acquaints viewers with the Battle of Gallipoli’s casualties and traumas from the campaign’s dates of April 25, 1915 to January 6, 1916. It begins on August 7th during the Battle of Lone Pine -- in honor of the only Turkish pine (Pinus brutia) not felled to cover Turkish trenches -- from August 6th to 10th on Turkey’s European peninsula. It continues, with World War I’s (July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918) end, to southeast Australia’s northwest Victoria.

Eliza Connor (Jacqueline McKenzie) delights in husband Joshua’s (Russell Crowe) reading Arabian Nights to three empty beds, not his divining water 5 meters (16.40 feet) down.

Joshua Connor's three sons' favorite story in The Arabian Nights is "Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri Banu,"about 3 sons of the Sultan of the Indies, each with magical aid: Ahmad with magical tent, Ali with magical telescope, Hussain with magical carpet.

A Tale of 1001 Nights: 1873 oil on canvas by Gustave Boulanger (April 25, 1824 - October 1888)
Sons of the Sultan of the Indies with scimitars
Sons of the Sultan of the Indies with scimitars

The Water Diviner explains Turkey as de-imperialized Republic


Joshua endures the heartbreaks of Eliza’s accidental or purposeful drowning and Father McIntyre’s (Damon Herriman) officiation on consecrated ground in exchange for the family cart. He finds himself three months later in:

  • an Istanbul hotel owner-operated by Ayshe (Olga Kyrlenko), widowered Dr. Ibrahim’s (Salih Kalyon) Europeanized daughter;
  • Sultan Ahmet I’s (April 18, 1590 – November 22, 1617) Blue Mosque with Ayshe’s ten-year-old son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades);
  • the War Office with Captain Charles Brindley (Daniel Wyllie).

Ayshe gets over anti-Australianism -- resulting from musician husband Turgut’s four-year missing-in-action status -- upon hearing of British Consul refusal to issue Josh civilian travel permits across the Dardanelles.

Joshua therefore heads to Çanakkale, from which fishers regularly cross the straits without permits. 


About 1.5 months before premiere of "The Water Diviner" in Madrid, Spain: Olga Kurylenko at opening of 65th Berlin International Film Festival, held February 5-15, 2015

Olga plays Ayshe in Russell Crowe's directorial debut.
Berlinale Palast, Berlin, northeastern Germany
Berlinale Palast, Berlin, northeastern Germany

The Water Diviner finds friends in former enemies


The Imperial Graves Unit involves Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) and Major Hasan (Yılmaz Erdoğan) in identifying and interring Commonwealth casualties. They juggle resources and schedules for Joshua’s two-day search for 7th AIF Battalion Private remains of Arthur (Ryan Corr) and;

  • 17-year 17-day-old Edward R. (James Fraser);
  • 18-year 5-month old Henry K. (Ben O’Toole).

Joshua knows that favorable and unfavorable outcomes respectively can be predicted from:

  • currently imagining dervishes and windmills while touching Arabian Nights and Arthur’s diary;
  • previously mistaking sub-surface rocks and waters.

Joshua lets nothing pass despite:

  • French and Italians in the Aegean;
  • Greeks in Anatolia;
  • Nationalists under Kemal Atatürk (May 19, 1881 – November 10, 1938);
  • Prisoner-of-war camps in Afyonkarahisar;
  • Russians in the Black Sea. 


Castle of Afyonkarahisar (Turkish: afyon "poppy, opium" + kara "black" + hisar "fortress"), built ca. 1350 BCE, tops black volcanic rock:

prisoners captured during Gallipoli campaign were held in buildings at foot of rock.
Afyon Province, western Turkey
Afyon Province, western Turkey

The Water Diviner gives coffee central decision-making status


The plot manipulates personal and political conflicts despite critical conversations and pivotal observations in Greek and Turkish, nevertheless conveniently subtitled into English translations. It needs no foreknowledge of Eurasian history since actions and dialogues make events culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, and geo-historically enthralling. It offers such elegant touches as:

  • collusions between coffee-readings and match-making;
  • complications from Ayshe’s brother-in-law Omer’s (Steve Bastoni) third-night-offs from wife Fatma (Megan Gale);
  • connectedness through cricket bats in trenches.

That the 111-minute film’s “R” rating references war-related images, not a super-quick butt-shot, never prevents audiences respecting:

  • all cast and crew;
  • cinematographer Andrew Lesnie;
  • director Russell Crowe;
  • editor Matt Villa;
  • producers Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, Keith Rodger;
  • writers Andrew Anastasios, Andrew Knight, Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios.


The Water Diviner Official Trailer #1 (2014) Russell Crowe Australian Epic Movie HD

Published on YouTube on September 30, 2014 by Movieclips Trailers ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources. 


Satellite image of the Gallipoli Peninsula and surrounding area: Gallipoli Peninsula juts southwesterly from northwestern Turkey

Dardanelles, strait connecting Sea of Marmara and Aegean Sea, separates Europe's Gallipoli Peninsula from Asia's mainland in Anatolia, Turkey.
Gallipoli in Turkey from space
Gallipoli in Turkey from space
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Water Diviner ~ Available in Blu-Ray and DVD formats; also available via Amazon Instant Video (Rent or Buy with 1-Click®) ~ Available now via Amazon

Shot on location in Turkey and in Australian Outback, Russell Crowe's directorial debut is film adaptation of novel inspired by sentence in letter: "One old chap managed to get here from Australia today, searching for his son’s grave.”
The Water Diviner (DVD)

Elevated View of the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii): photo by Gavin Hellier ~ Available as Photographic Print and Premium Photographic Print ~ Available now via AllPosters

In "The Water Diviner," Joshua Connor marvels at architectural intricacies of Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii), known popularly as Blue Mosque, built 1609-1616.
Elevated View of the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 09/26/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 09/30/2015

Mira, Yes, the Blue Mosque certainly is amazing (as is so much of the old architecture of Turkey and Iran). Russell Crowe is as conscientious and dramatic as a director as he is as an actor and singer. This is a film which I'll be moving on and off my DVD shelves a couple of times yearly, along with my other favorite Russell Crowe movies.

Mira on 09/30/2015

The Blue Mosque is pretty amazing. I haven't looked at it in a while.
I'd be curious to watch Russell Crowe's debut as director. Thanks for the review!

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