By Sophia Whitfield
In the course of researching a project on Australian history, Melbourne based author and screenwriter Andrew Anastasios came across a letter from a man named Cyril Hughes, a Lieutenant Colonel who was an integral part of the Imperial War Graves unit bringing order to the abandoned battlefield at Gallipoli, in the years immediately after the First World War.
In that letter was the line that inspired the story of The Water Diviner -
“One old chap managed to get here from Australia, looking for his son’s grave.”
Set four years after the battle of Gallipoli during World War I, a tragedy sparks a father’s crusade. The Water Diviner tells the tale of Joshua Connor’s journey to find his three sons, all missing in action, and bring them home to Australia.
A heart-breaking scene at the start of the film shows Connor (Russell Crowe) reading Arabian Nights to his three son’s empty beds.
In 1919 Connor, an Australian farmer, travels to Turkey to discover the fate of his sons. Initially blocked by military bureaucracy, he is helped first by Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), the owner of the hotel he stays at in Istanbul, and then by Turkish Officer Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), who had fought against Connor’s sons. Connor and Major Hasan form an unlikely friendship as they travel together across the war-torn landscape in search of truth.
Much of the film‘s central theme is focused on forgiveness. It is told in part from the Turkish point of view revealing the devastation and loss they too are struggling to come to terms with.
The release of the film is timely (26 December) as in 2015 Australians will be commemorating the ANZAC Centenary.
The Water Diviner marks Russell Crowe’s ambitious and brilliant directorial debut.
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