Russell Crowe’s ‘The Water Diviner’ is an audacious re-examination of the Anzac myth from the broader human experience of grief and loss.
In Part One of this 6 part series, I began my discussion of ‘The Water Diviner’. In this part, I will offer an overview of the film’s plot.
The film opens in 1919, five years after the Gallipoli Campaign, with an Australian farming couple Josh and Eliza Connor struggling in different ways with grief following the death in battle of their three sons. Josh tries to keep busy around the farm, using his skills as a ‘water diviner’ to locate sources of water for his livestock. In contrast, his wife has retreated into the delusion that their sons are not only alive but are still children living within the house. Josh as the loving husband and grieving farmer, feels obligated to support his wife in her delusion.
The audience follows Josh as his grief finds new lows. Faced with the enormity of a grief that will not end, and his sense of powerlessness in the face of the enormity of that grief, Josh embarks on an impossible journey: to find his sons and brings their physical remains home for burial.
Buoyed by his self-appointed mission, Josh journeys to Gallipoli but finds a country in chaos. Defeated in the recently ended WW1, the Ottoman Empire is being carved up by the victorious Allies. The British occupation officials in Constantinople/Istanbul have little interest or compassion to support the self-appointed mission of a grieving father after so much death has occurred. However, Josh is undeterred and earns the respect of Allied and Turkish soldiers alike.
‘The Water Diviner’ is also interesting for its willingness to see former enemies as human beings. Even in the 21st Century, it is still rare to find such an English-language film relating to any war. And it is the only English-language film of the Gallipoli Campaign that dares to treat the Turks as human beings rather than the faceless enemy in the distance.
I will pause my discussion of the plot here. Anything further will give away too much of the plot. If you have not seen the film, I recommend you consider watching it before I give away key plot spoilers in later posting.
In subsequent posts, I will explore historical and psychological dimensions of the film.
To finish this posting, I will say (quickly) that ‘The Water Diviner’ is not a perfect film. Alongside the many positive elements, there are some problematic aspects. Arguably, there are too may sub-plots. Further, the film demands a great deal of the credulity of the audience. Some aspects are not particularly believable. And some sub-plots are given a too neat (and too emotionally satisfying) conclusion by the end of the film. Crowe has a great story to tell, but he tries a little too hard in places.
However, watch the film and make up your mind.
In Part Three of this 6 part series, I will reflect upon some of the national perspectives upon the Gallipoli campaign to assist in placing the film in its historical context.
Photo Copyright Details:
|Title: The_Water_Diviner_poster Description: Poster for the film The Water Diviner Date: 1 October 2014 Source: Wikipedia Commons, which derived the image from commingsoon.net. This image is of a poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work depicted. However, this low resolution image is reproduced with the intention of providing a commentary on the film.|