Water Diviner, The (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 19-Mar-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-The Making of The Water Diviner (18:56)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 111:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Russell Crowe
Studio
Distributor
Entertainment One Starring Russell Crowe
Jai Courtney
Yilmaz Erdogan
Cem Yilmaz
Olga Kurylenko
Dylan Georgiades
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music David Hirschfelder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is 1919. Connor (Russell Crowe) is a farmer in rural Victoria whose three sons are presumed dead, killed at Gallipoli four years previously. Connor’s wife has never got over the loss and when she walks into a dam and drowns Connor abandons the farm and travels to Turkey to find the bodies of his boys and bring them home. Arriving in Istanbul Connor finds a room in the hotel run by Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), whose husband is missing after the fighting at Gallipoli, and makes friends with her preteen son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades). Connor is denied access to the Gallipoli peninsula by the British authorities, but he manages to hire a fisherman who takes him there.

     On the peninsula, a Commonwealth War Graves Unit led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes (Jai Courtney) is working to exhume, identify and rebury the bodies of the Anzacs who died in the fighting. To assist him he has been assigned the Turks Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) and Sargent Cemal (Cem Yilmaz), who had both fought against the Anzacs and who know the ground. The bodies of two of his sons are found, but Connor discovers from Hasan that his oldest son, Art, had survived the battle, been captured and sent to a prison camp in Anatolia, an area currently being invaded by the Greeks. Connor is convinced that Art is still alive and sets out on the dangerous journey into Anatolia to find his son and to discover the truth about what had happened to his sons on the Gallipoli battlefield.

     The Water Diviner is based on a true story (to a point) and is the directorial debut of Russell Crowe who shows that he has learned a lot from the directors he has worked with, including, of course, I think five films with Ridley Scott. The Water Diviner is a powerful and moving film about family, children, war, loss and redemption. It looks stunning, courtesy of Australian cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (DP of The Lord of the Rings films and Oscar winner for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)) and the battle sequences are suitably chaotic, bloody and violent. But the film’s heart, and its major strength, is in the wonderful cast.

     Russell Crowe is excellent as a decent and dogged man stubbornly following an idea, but the film’s standouts are the two Turkish actors Yilmaz Erdogan and Cem Yilmaz who provide all the heart and gravitas required. I had seen Erdogan before, in his compelling performance in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s excellent Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, but Yilmaz is new to me and his humour and charisma light up the screen. Less successful is Olga Kurylenko. Not only is she saddled with an almost superfluous romantic subplot and a candle lit dinner that feels wrong, but amidst a cast of excellent Turkish actors the beautiful Ukrainian born Kurylenko just does not feel authentic and seems a misstep in an otherwise excellent cast.

     It is 100 years since the landings at Gallipoli, and it is inevitable that a number of films and TV series will reinvestigate the sacrifice and legends associated with the battle. The Water Diviner takes a different, and individual, slant looking at the effects of war and the anguish and loss suffered by one family. This is an auspicious start as a director by Russell Crowe and may he continue to use his clout as a Hollywood A-lister to tell Australian stories for he remains steadfastly Australian; his acknowledgment of the 2014 Rabbitoes Rugby League Premiership at the end of the credits would certainly confuse non-Australian audiences!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Water Diviner is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The detail of the film is impressive, with every line and whisker on Russell Crowe’s grizzled face finely detailed. Colours are deep and glossy, with beautiful blues, reds and browns; the Istanbul skyline, the Bosporus, the Gallipoli ridges, the sunrises look superb. Blacks are solid, shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent.

     Other than some slight ghosting against mottled surfaces I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. In addition, white subtitles automatically translate the sections of Turkish dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
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Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus an English audio description track using a female voice (Dolby Digital 2.0).

     The audio is very good. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand. The surrounds and rears were used extensively for ambient effects, wind, train sounds and music but explode into life during the battle sequences with machine guns, rifles, grenades, cannons and explosions, while bullets whiz and ricochet past. I initially felt that the sub-woofer was too loud in support of the music, but during the action is added effective bass to the explosions and gunfire.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

    The original score by Australian David Hirschfelder (Oscar nominated for Shine (1996) and Elizabeth (1998)) has a Middle Eastern flavour but this is not overdone and the result is a good score, effectively supporting the visuals and moods of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The Making of The Water Diviner (18:56)

     Although relatively short, this featurette is one of the better of its kind providing a nice level of detail and information without overdoing it. It is narrated by Russell Crowe with a neat sense of humour, and includes on set, script reading, audition and physical training footage plus comments by a wide range of the cast and crew. Items touched on include inspirations, locations, casting, costumers, weapons, stunts, editing and the music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Water Diviner is not currently available in any other region.

Summary

     The Water Diviner is a beautiful, moving and powerful film, an auspicious directorial debut by Russell Crowe. Some have questioned the positive portrayal of the Turks, but the Turks lost approximately 7 times the number of the Allied dead in defence of their country at Gallipoli and the reconciliation portrayed in the film is consistent with the views of Kemal Ataturk, the commander of the Turkish forces which opposed the Gallipoli landings and later father of modern day Turkey, who wrote of the ANZAC dead “you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country . . . having lost their lives in this land they have become our sons as well”. His words are inscribed both on a memorial at Gallipoli and at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

     Lest we forget.

     The video is very good, the audio excellent. The extra is genuine and worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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