Newest Reviews
Lu Over the Wall
She's Funny That Way
Vox Lux
Aftermath, The
Five Fingers for Marseilles
Jupiter's Moon
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Final Destination 2
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Summer Lovers
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
  Ten Canoes Back In The DayBuy this film here.
Year: 2006
Director: Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr
Stars: Crusoe Kurddal, Jamie Gulpilil, Richard Birrinbirrin, Peter Minygululu, Frances Djulibing, David Gulpilil, Sonia Djarrabalmynim, Cassandra Malangarri Baker, Philip Gudthaykudthay, Peter Djigirr, Michael Dawu, Bobby Bunungurr
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The storyteller (David Gulpilil) is going to tell us the tale of his ancestors, but first he will relate how he got to be here himself, simple enough as he used to be like a fish in a waterhole until he was born into the world, and after he dies he will return to the waterhole. Such as it was with is ancestors, of whom he will detail how they would go out into the countryside to turn trees into ten canoes for the men of some connected tribes to use. But perhaps that does not go back far enough, so we travel back in time to their ancestors, and a story of a misunderstanding...

Rolf de Heer is one of Australia's most respected directors, and after he had made The Tracker, what he saw as an important narrative of the relationship between the Aborigines and the whites in his country, he wondered why nobody was folllowing up that and similar films from the same time. Therefore he got to talking with the star of The Tracker, possibly the most celebrated native Australian actor of his generation David Gulpilil, and they devised a tale that would see an exclusively Aborigine cast in a work told in their language, from before the whites arrived.

Ten Canoes was the result, and far from being a mysterious, Walkabout-style effort that made an enigma of Gulpilil's background, here was a far more playful rendering of his people, and one with themes that anyone from anywhere in the world could relate to without much trouble. There are essentially two stories in one here, with the first group of ancestors on their excursion to find trees for canoes, and the other where the tribe's elder tells a younger man (Jamie Gulpilil, David's son) about less peaceful times of their people further back in their history.

So that we can distinguish between these two periods, the newer footage is in black and white and the more extensive older stuff is in colour, which is helpful as the same actors who play the newer tribe also play the older. The older concerns itself, as much of this film does, with the ways that tales can branch off like trees to become more and more involved, although to de Heer's credit nothing about it seems contrived. The narration only contributes to this, breaking off at crucial moments to let us know how the canoe building is coming along, which should be all rights be irritating but actually you indulge them and it grows charming.

That older part illustrates how a paranoia about the outsider, no matter where your society is, can lead to trouble unnecessarily, so that when one of the tribal leader's three wives disappears, a stranger who has been spotted in the vicinity is blamed and the situation spirals out of control, culminating in spears being thrown and people dying needlessly all on flimsy suspicions that the rival tribe had kidnapped the missing woman. If this sounds gravely serious, nothing could be further from the truth as the film exhibits a lightness of touch and wry humour that humanises its characters in the best way possible, leaving the viewer feeling educated as well as entertained. Couple this wisdom with some stunning scenery and you have a work which takes you by surprise, as it could have been dry as dust but instead brims with life, with only the reservation that it feels slighter than intended detracting from it.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1475 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
  Desbris M
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones


Last Updated: