Ten Canoes

Watch Ten Canoes

"Ten canoes, three wives, one hundred and fifty spears...trouble"
  • NR
  • 2006
  • 1 hr 32 min
  • 6.9  (5,082)
  • 82

Ten Canoes is an Australian film that transports the audience to a world that exists beyond time through stunning visuals, rich storytelling, and cultural traditions that have been passed down for generations. Directed by Rolf de Heer and co-directed by Peter Djigirr, the movie explores the culture and heritage of the Yolngu people, an indigenous tribe from the remote Arafura swamp region of northern Australia.

The story is set in ancient times, and it follows the hunter Ridjimiraril (Crusoe Kurddal), who is about to go on his first goose egg hunt. He seeks the guidance of his elder brother and tribe leader, Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), who recounts a story from their ancestral past, about a young man who coveted his elder brother's wife and the consequences that ensued. Dayindi uses the story as a way to impart wisdom and advice to his younger brother, while also revealing the tribe's customs, values, and beliefs.

As the story progresses, we see the Yolngu people go about their daily lives, hunting, gathering, and engaging in rituals such as body painting, dancing, and singing. The film showcases the beauty of the swamp and the surrounding landscape, and we see how the tribe uses the resources around them to survive. From the bark of trees to create canoes to the use of fire to cook their meals, the audience gets an insight into the intimate relationship between the Yolngu people and their environment.

One of the striking features of Ten Canoes is the use of narration in the Yolngu language, with English subtitles. The story is told through gentle narration by the elder, with the characters on screen enacting the events from the story. The narration provides an almost poetic cadence to the film, and the audience is transported into a world that existed long before the arrival of Europeans in Australia.

The movie has a quasi-documentary feel to it, and this is due to the director's decision to shoot the film in black and white, which gives the film a timeless quality. The use of 360-degree camera movements captures the natural beauty of the landscape, immersing the audience in the story, and allowing them to experience the sights and sounds of the swamp and its inhabitants.

Another notable feature of the movie is the depiction of the Yolngu people as complex and diverse characters, with their own distinct personalities and motivations. The characters are not mere stereotypes; instead, they are portrayed as individuals with their own sets of values, beliefs, and cultural practices.

Ten Canoes is an important film that provides an authentic portrayal of the Yolngu people and their heritage. The movie is a testament to the power of storytelling, as it reveals the importance of passing down knowledge from one generation to the next. The themes of brotherhood, jealousy, and betrayal explored in the movie are universal, and the filmmakers have done an excellent job of presenting them in a cultural context.

Overall, Ten Canoes is a visually stunning film that offers an intimate portrait of an ancient culture. The film transports the audience to a world that exists beyond time, where the traditions and values of the Yolngu people are celebrated and preserved for generations to come. It is a must-see for anyone interested in indigenous cultures and their traditions.

Ten Canoes
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 32 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (5,082)
  • Metascore