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 three sons of the Sultan of the Indies, each with magical aid: Ahmad's magical tent, Ali's magical telescope, Hussain's magical carpet.

illustration of Prince Ahmed's first sight of Fairy Periebanou by Willy Pogany (August 24, 1882-July 30, 1955); Frances Jenkins Olcott, More Tales From the Arabian Nights (1915)
"The Story of Prince Ahmed: The Fairy Palace," opposite page 222
"The Story of Prince Ahmed: The Fairy Palace," opposite page 222

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. 

 

The Water Diviner traces Australian farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor's (Russell Crowe) search for his three sons.

The Connors have been reported missing in action as members of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) during the Entente Powers' military campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu Yarımadası), East Thrace (European Turkey), southeastern Europe.
The Connor "boys", Arthur (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole)
The Connor "boys", Arthur (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole)

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; Tuesday, September 17, 1991
Afyon Province, western Turkey; Tuesday, September 17, 1991

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" (2:32)

Uploaded September 30, 2014, by Movieclips Trailers to YouTube ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CkLC4Zr2Mw

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

 

Image Credits

 

Joshua Connor's three sons' favorite story in The Arabian Nights is "Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banu," about three sons of the Sultan of the Indies, each with magical aid: Ahmad's magical tent, Ali's magical telescope, Hussain's magical carpet.
illustration of Prince Ahmed's first sight of Fairy Periebanou by Willy Pogany (August 24, 1882-July 30, 1955); Frances Jenkins Olcott, More Tales From the Arabian Nights (1915)
"The Story of Prince Ahmed: The Fairy Palace," opposite page 222: Not in copyright, via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/moretalesfromara00lane/page/n256/mode/1up

The Water Diviner traces Australian farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor's (Russell Crowe) search for his three sons.
The Connors have been reported missing in action as members of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) during the Entente Powers' military campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu Yarımadası), East Thrace (European Turkey), southeastern Europe.
The Connor "boys", Arthur (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole): The Water Diviner @TheWaterDivinerMovie, via Facebook October, 29, 2014, @ https://www.facebook.com/TheWaterDivinerMovie/posts/721200427960091

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; Tuesday, September 17, 1991: Klaus-Peter Simon, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AfyonBurgberg.jpg

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.
Turkey's largest island (center left), Imbros (official name: Gökçeada İmroz, "Heavenly Island") lies west of Gallipoli Peninsula (center).: NASA’s globe software World Wind, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gallipoli_peninsula_from_space.png

 

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.
Turkey's largest island (center left), Imbros (official name: Gökçeada İmroz, "Heavenly Island") lies west of Gallipoli Peninsula (center).
Turkey's largest island (center left), Imbros (official name: Gökçeada İmroz, "Heavenly Island") lies west of Gallipoli Peninsu...
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: 08/02/2022, 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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