Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Water Diviner

(Australia, UK, Turkey, 2014)

Somebody handed me a copy of this at the Balticon 50 over the Memorial Day weekend, and I can’t recall why. It has a sort of supernatural, or maybe I should say paranormal, element to it in the water divining, AKA dowsing, which is bullshit. Dowsing is also said to be able to locate graves and dead bodies, which comes in useful when Russell Crowe sets out to Turkey to find the bodies of his three sons who all died at the battle of Gallipoli in 1915. It was a hellish campaign that wasted the lives of 35,000 Anzacs and 175,000 Turks.

As a soldier points out to Crowe when he arrives there, this is the first war where they were attempting to identify all the dead. Before, they would have just been bulldozed into a common grave. So there is some hope, but it would seem to be a long shot. Crowe the dowser finds where they died, of course, and we get flashbacks to what happened, which is just as horrific as you would expect, and maybe a little more. But there is a surprise, which is not all that surprising, but I still won’t reveal what it is …

I liked this film, Crowe’s directorial debut, but it was controversial, mostly among the Greeks, historical enemies of the Turks. After the war is over Greeks invaded Turkey, and Crowe is caught up in the fight. They are portrayed as vicious thugs, barbarians. Also, as this was going down there was also the small matter of the Armenian genocide, something the fucking Turks still won’t admit to. I sympathize with the Armenians who were pissed off, but what are you gonna do? It was happening in a far-off part of Turkey, so how do you bring it up in this film? You don’t, that’s all. It’s not part of the story we are telling.