The Water Diviner

The Water Diviner is a 2014 drama film directed by and starring Russell Crowe, in his directorial debut, and written by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight. The film is loosely based on the book of the same name written by Andrew Anastasios and Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios. It follows an Australian farmer, Joshua Connor (Crowe), who travels to Turkey soon after World War I to find his three sons who never returned.

The Water Diviner
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRussell Crowe
Produced by
  • Troy Lum
  • Andrew Mason
  • Keith Rodger
Written by
Music byDavid Hirschfelder
CinematographyAndrew Lesnie
Edited byMatt Villa
Distributed by
Release date
  • 26 December 2014 (2014-12-26) (Australia)
  • 24 April 2015 (2015-04-24) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
  • English
  • Turkish
Budget$22.5 million[3]
Box office$38.2 million[3]

The film co-stars Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Cem Yılmaz, Yılmaz Erdoğan, and Jacqueline McKenzie. The Water Diviner had its world premiere at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia on 2 December 2014.[4] It opened in Australian and New Zealand cinemas on 26 December 2014. The film had a limited release in the United States on 24 April 2015.


The film begins in 1919, just after World War I has ended, and centres around Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe), an Australian farmer and water diviner. His three sons Arthur (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser), and Henry (Ben O'Toole) served with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the military campaign in Gallipoli four years previously and are presumed dead. After his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) commits suicide out of grief, Joshua resolves to bring his sons' bodies home and bury them with their mother.

Joshua travels to Turkey and stays in a hotel in Istanbul run by war-widowed Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), but is unable to travel to Gallipoli by road. Learning the purpose of his journey, Ayshe tells him to bribe a local fisherman to travel to Gallipoli by boat. When he arrives, Joshua learns that ANZACs are engaged in a mass burial detail and all civilians are banned. Major Hasan (Yılmaz Erdoğan), a Turkish Army officer assisting the ANZACs, persuades the ANZAC captain Lt-Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) to prioritize helping Joshua with his search. After finding Edward and Henry's graves, Joshua sees in his dreams that Arthur survives the battle. Hasan recognizes Joshua's surname and tells him that Arthur might have been taken prisoner.

Joshua returns to Istanbul, but fails to find out which prison camp Arthur was transferred to, as many Turkish records have been burned. He returns to Ayshe's hotel and learns that she is being pressed to marry her brother-in-law, Omer. Their argument becomes heated and Omer retreats when Joshua intervenes. Ayshe lashes out, blaming Joshua for making things worse and tells him to leave. As Joshua leaves the hotel, Omer and a few of his friends attack him, only to be stopped by Hasan's subordinate, Sergeant Jemal (Cem Yılmaz). Jemal takes Joshua to Hasan, who explains that the Greeks have invaded and they are going to defend their country as the British are not intervening. Joshua decides to travel with Hasan's group, who will pass through the region where his son might be. As Joshua returns to the hotel to retrieve his belongings, Ayshe apologizes for her earlier words.

While on the train, Jemal asks Joshua about a cricket bat he found in the Allied trenches when they retreated, as he is unsure whether it is a weapon or not. Joshua then explains to the Turkish soldiers on board the train the basic rules of cricket. However, Greek soldiers attack the train with only Jemal, Hasan and Joshua surviving the initial assault. Using the bat, Joshua saves Hasan as a Greek officer prepares to execute him but Jemal is killed in the resulting struggle. Joshua and Hasan flee to a nearby town where they spot a windmill, which Joshua saw in his recurring dream. There he finds Arthur alive but traumatized. Arthur reveals that at the end of the battle, Edward was still alive but badly wounded. He pleaded with Arthur to end his suffering, and Arthur reluctantly complied. Blaming himself for his brothers' deaths, Arthur felt he could never return to his family.

The Greek soldiers who previously attacked the train begin to attack the town, and the two men try to escape through the mountains. Arthur refuses to follow his father, but relents when Joshua says that without his wife and sons, he has nowhere else to go. They successfully evade the Greek army and return to Ayshe's hotel. The film ends with Joshua drinking a cup of coffee made by Ayshe which indicates that she has fallen in love with him.



The story concept originated from a single line in a letter written by Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Hughes who was a worker in the Imperial War Graves unit. The footnote simply said, “One chap managed to get here from Australia, looking for his son’s grave.” After a year of research the writers were unable to identify the father or his son which gave them the freedom to imagine a story which would become their screenplay.[8]

On 18 June 2013, it was announced that Crowe had signed to make his directorial debut with an historical drama film The Water Diviner from a screenplay written by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios. He would also star in the film.[9] Producers would be Troy Lum, Andrew Mason and Keith Rodger and it was set to be shot in Australia and Turkey.[5] On 25 March 2014, it was announced that Seven West Media and Seven Group Holdings would co-finance the film.[10] On 7 November 2014, Warner Bros. acquired the US rights to the film.[11]


Crowe portrays Joshua Connor, an Australian farmer. Olga Kurylenko was added to the cast on 18 October 2013 to co-star with Crowe.[6] On 24 October, Jai Courtney was announced as having signed to star in The Water Diviner and another historical film, Unbroken. Courtney first filmed Unbroken and then moved to The Water Diviner, playing a soldier, Lt. Col. Cecil Hughes.[7] Later, Turkish actors Cem Yılmaz and Yılmaz Erdoğan were also added to the cast, along with some Australian actors: Ryan Corr, Daniel Wyllie, Damon Herriman, Deniz Akdeniz, Steve Bastoni and Jacqueline McKenzie.[12]


Principal photography began on 2 December 2013 in Australia.[12]


On 1 February 2014, the first official still from the film was revealed.[13] On 28 April, the first footage from the film in a 7-minute featurette, narrated by Crowe, was revealed.[14] The first official trailer for the film was released on 30 September.[15]


The film was released in Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey on 26 December 2014, and it was released in Thailand on 15 January 2015. The film was initially to be released in the UK on 23 January 2015 but was moved to 3 April.[16] The film was released in IMAX, and general, theaters by Warner Bros. in the United States on 24 April 2015.[11][17] Entertainment One and Universal Studios jointly released the film in Australia, with eONE solely releasing the film in Europe and Canada.[10]

The film made its free-to-air television premiere on the Seven Network in Australia on 20 April 2015, a mere four months after its theatrical release in Australia for the centennial anniversary of ANZAC Day. Seven is an investor in the film.[18]


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 62% based on 145 reviews; the average rating is 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Water Diviner finds Russell Crowe on somewhat uncertain footing as a director, but he's rescued by a strong performance from himself in the leading role."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 50 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Calls for a protest and boycott of the film on social media resulted in the Facebook page "Protest and Boycott the Water Diviner" which has over 16,000 fans.[22] Descendants of victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, Assyrian Genocide and Greek Genocide were incensed by the portrayal of the Turks in the movie as victims, at the same time that Turks were committing atrocities on their minorities. Various film critics described the movie as "a distortion of history that only serves to appease Turkey and its continued agenda of genocide denial."[23] Anthony McAdam of The Spectator wrote: "Leaving aside aesthetic considerations, the fact is the film's lack of any historical context is breathtaking." McAdam notes that there is one "glaring omission" in the film, that being the lack of any mention of the Armenian Genocide.[24]

Box office

The Water Diviner grossed $30.8 million worldwide.[25] On 5 January 2015, it was named the highest grossing Australian-produced film of 2014, with a gross of $12,294,472.[26][27] However, in many cinemas in the UK it was screened for just one week.

The film was received very favourably in Turkey at its debut and subsequent release. To date, the film has taken almost 14.3 million ($5.7 million), a handy addition to the $12.3 million it has taken in Australia."[28]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
Best Film1 Andrew Mason Won
Troy Lum Won
Keith Rodger Won
Best Original Screenplay Andrew Anastasios Nominated
Andrew Knight Nominated
Best Actor Russell Crowe Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Yılmaz Erdoğan Won
Best Supporting Actress Jacqueline McKenzie Nominated
Best Editing Matt Villa Nominated
Best Production Design Christopher Kennedy Nominated
Best Costume Design Tess Schofield Won
Best Visual Effects David Booth Nominated
Prue Fletcher Nominated
Marc Varisco Nominated
Adam Paschke Nominated
AWGIE Award Best Writing in a Feature Film - Original Andrew Anastasios Won
Andrew Knight Won
FCCA Awards Best Film Andrew Mason Nominated
Troy Lum Nominated
Keith Rodger Nominated
Best Director Russell Crowe Nominated
Best Actor Won
Best Supporting Actor Yilmaz Erdogan Won
Best Supporting Actress Jacqueline McKenzie Won
Best Cinematography Andrew Lesnie Nominated
Best Editing Matt Villa Nominated
Best Music Score David Hirschfelder Won
Best Production Design Christopher Kennedy Nominated

1 Shared award with The Babadook


  1. "THE WATER DIVINER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  2. "The Water Diviner (2014)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  3. "The Water Diviner (2015) - Summary". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  4. Sams, Christine (2 December 2014). "The Water Diviner premiered in Sydney with Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney and Megan Gale". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  5. Fleming, Mike (18 June 2013). "Russell Crowe Sets 'The Water Diviner' For Directing Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  6. McNary, Dave (18 October 2013). "Olga Kurylenko Joins Russell Crowe In 'Water Diviner'". Variety. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  7. Fleming, Mike (24 October 2013). "Jai Courtney Tapped For Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken', Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  8. Gundlach, Sarah. "The story behind The Water Diviner". Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. Anderton, Ethan (18 June 2013). "Russell Crowe Plans Directorial Debut in Period Drama 'Water Diviner'". FirstShowing. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  10. Frater, Patrick (25 March 2014). "Seven Finds Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner'". Variety. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  11. Kit, Borys (7 November 2014). "Warner Bros. Picks Up Russell Crowe's Historical Drama 'Water Diviner'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  12. "Russell Crowe to start shooting Gallipoli film The Water Diviner in Sydney". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  13. Barraclough, Leo (1 February 2014). "First Image: Russell Crowe's Helming Debut 'The Water Diviner'". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  14. Anderton, Ethan (28 April 2014). "Footage from Russell Crowe's 'The Water Diviner' in First Featurette". FirstShowing. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  15. Anderton, Ethan (30 September 2014). "Russell Crowe's Directorial Debut 'The Water Diviner' Aussie Trailer". FirstShowing. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  16. "Russell Crowe is Looking for his Sons in The Water Diviner". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. Bowles, Scott (20 March 2015). "Russell Crowe's 'The Water Diviner' Also Will Screen In Imax – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  18. Knox, David (13 April 2015). "Water Diviner world TV premiere on Seven". TV Tonight. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  19. "The Water Diviner (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  20. "The Water Diviner Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  21. D'Alessandro, Anthony (26 April 2015). "'Furious 7' Hits $320.5M, 'Adaline' Lures Ladies: The Calm Before 'Age Of Ultron' Conquers – Final Sunday B.O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  22. "Protest & Boycott "The Water Diviner" a movie by Russell Crowe". Facebook. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  23. "Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner faces deluge of protest ahead of US opening". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  24. "Crowe's water diviner is out of his depth". The Spectator. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  25. "The Water Diviner (2015) - Summary". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  26. "Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' is Top Australian Film of 2014". Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Reuters. 6 January 2015.
  27. "The Water Diviner (2015) - Foreign". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  28. Andrew Anastasios (6 December 2014). "The Water Diviner". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
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