For Italians, Gallipoli is a beautiful seaside resort in Puglia, but for the Australians it is a peninsula in Turkey, a symbol and an even deeper wound from a bit over one century ago, and the foundation of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) tradition.
Perhaps for this reason, the ninth exhibition of Australian Cinema that was held in Rome in summer 2016 with the Russell Crowe movie, ‘The Water Diviner’, which tells the story of the battle between Turkish and the ANZACs from an unusual perspective, touched the souls of many Aussies.
Not only one of the best movies I’ve seen, but a film that makes the Australian spirit clear. With images and scenic perspectives that give an insight into the Australian way of feeling: intrepid, fearless, but driven by a sense of duty and that truly Australian term – mateship. You must do what you must do. You must not waver, life leaves no escape: in a dust-storm of nature as in the storm of bullets from men.
The story of The Water Diviner is an intertwining of love between two great and proud countries: Australia and Turkey. Love declined in every possible way: of the spouse, children, home, God and man. And in the end it is the love of life that triumphs.
A father who had everything he could want, a beautiful wife, three sons and a farm in one of the most magical and awesomly grand places in the world, outback Australia. An attractively rugged nature, a starry sky and dust storms.
For a logic that you cannot understand, and that during the whole movie is searched both by the Australian father and by the Turkish soldiers, men, women and children, who will help him, the father lost his three ‘boys’ in the same battle at Gallipoli while at home on the farm in Australia with his beautiful wife who cannot withstand the pain and commits suicide.
He no longer has anything to lose and decides to rebuild his family in his soul by going to recover the bodies of his three children in Turkey and to bury them in Australia close to their mother.
But what is Gallipoli? A peninsula where almost 10,000 ANZAC soldiers and 60,000 Turkish soldiers died. It started with the invasion, an amphibious landing on a beach. One of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. And an unanswered question to why man behaves like ‘Homo homini lupus’ (a man is a wolf to another man). It was for all those soldiers – duty.
The father, played by Russell Crowe, goes to Turkey and from this moment the film becomes absolute poetry. As the present, his search at Lone Pine, camaraderie with the Turkish, skirting the war with Greece, takes over from the past, he is able to find one of his sons, still alive in a small monastery in Anatolia and take him ’home’ to create a new family in Istanbul, one born from two broken families.
Intertwining through the movie are the images of psychic nature, the water diviner, the dreamer, the coffee cup reader that make the outcome of the search possible. Behind the poetic end is the reality of how close the Australian and Turkish communities have come since the poetry of Ataturk and the mateship of the Australians
When the movie was over I wanted to see it again. We feel grateful to the Australian Embassy that it holds these cultural events that help people to know this great country from unusual angles and delights us with intercultural evenings.
As the world changes and memories of ‘mateship’ may decline, we hope that the links forged between ANZACs and all Australians and Turks will remain firm.