Ten Canoes


Adventure / Comedy / Drama

IMDb Rating 7 10 4,167


Downloaded 7,373 times
November 20, 2019



David Gulpilil as Charlie
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
815.72 MB
23.976 fps
90 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.43 GB
23.976 fps
90 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by onamission 9 / 10 / 10

A revelatory experience

Wow. If your main prior experience of Aboriginal film is with black and white documentary footage from the 50s and 60s or with the many films examining the impact of white culture on black society and the often tragic results of their interplay, this will turn it on its head. The movies worships nature and the land in the same way Aboriginal culture views the land not as backdrop or something to be exploited, but as almost human itself. Without qualification or embellishment, the camera marvels at the beauty of the landscape, and we do too. The story is set many generations ago, but there is no sense of time; it could be yesterday, or 40,000 years ago. Time hasn't changed the way of life of the people we are introduced to nor the lessons the young must learn to reach maturity, as our hero Yeeralpiril discovers. David Gulpilil's narration is so masterful it suggests he has another twenty stories up his sleeve just as beguiling to tell you as this one. Film-making like this is a rare experience. Let there be more.

Reviewed by F Gwynplaine MacIntyre 10 / 10 / 10

'Ten Canoes' rates a 10!

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. I saw 'Ten Canoes' at Cannes, and I was absolutely awestruck. Even now, almost precisely a year later, I've difficulty writing about this film without being emotionally overcome. Yes, damn it, the movie's that good, that wonderful, that miraculous. I feel a deep attachment to this film and its subject matter. As you might guess from my email address -- Borroloola (an aboriginal settlement in the Northern Territory) -- I spent several of my formative years in Australia's outback, notably the Red Centre, Arunta and the Northern Territory, not far from where 'Ten Canoes' was filmed. I've been privileged to live with, or nearby to, members of several of the indigenous tribes from that part of Australia. The people in 'Ten Canoes' (both the actors and the roles they portray) are of the Yolngu and Gunwinggu tribes, whereas most of my own friendships in that region are with members of the Nunggubuyu and Gunbalanya groups. All of these tribes are centred in the Arnhem Land region, so I recognised much of the land (and language) in this wonderful movie. I was surprised that this film's English title has a number in it, because the Arnhem Land natives did not use number words until recently. They quantify an object by naming it as many times as needed. For instance, the Nunggubuyu word for 'day' is 'jami', so 'three days' would be 'jami jami jami'. This system works well enough for quantities of as many as five (a hand's worth): for more than five of anything, they use a word for 'many'. It turns out that the title 'Ten Canoes' is largely irrelevant and mostly symbolic. Ten Yolngu warriors are on an expedition to steal goose eggs from their nests (insert 'poached eggs' joke here). To travel by water, the warriors must construct one canoe for each man. But the title refers to the ten men themselves, or their physical bodies: vessels (canoes) in which their souls travel the (river) current of existence. (The press kit at Cannes said that this film's title was inspired by a photograph ... yet that photo is never seen in this film. My own explanation fits the circumstances just as well.) The film's narration by David Gulpilil is perfect. He speaks his lines in an accent containing just enough Strine to link the action to modern Australia without evoking Mick Dundee or any Ocker stereotypes. Several supernatural events occur during this film, but they're conveyed in native Australian terms, not Hollywood clichés ... so, don't expect any CGI f/x mucking up this wonderful story. The beautiful photography is entirely at the service of native Australian story-telling techniques. Even the subtle manipulation of colour, which could have been just one more gimmick, adds a dimension to the narrative. The aboriginal actors, with their distinctive Dravidian facial structures, photograph astonishingly. Unfortunately for the film, one or two of them have modern dentition, spoiling the effect that we're witnessing events occurring thousands of years before white men's arrival in Australia. The main Gunwinggu character has a moustache just a bit too neatly trimmed. More favourably, I was delighted by a scene which shows (accurately) how these ancient men, who have no metal, are able to shave their beards. Very credibly, their preoccupations are much as we might expect: flatulence, sex, physical urges. Because I've done continuity work on several films, I compulsively check every movie I view (and its soundtrack) for continuity errors or anachronisms. As I watched and enjoyed 'Ten Canoes' and the beautiful footage of Arnhem Land flora and fauna, I kept checking for jet contrails, rabbit fences, bird calls by imported species, or any other signs of modern life in this movie's depiction of dawntime Australia. The flawless teeth of a couple of the actors were the only flaws in this film. I wept with joy and delight at the beauty and narrative power of this unique and precious film. A rating of 10 out of 10 isn't good enough, but it'll have to do. If you have any passion at all for anything outside the usual Hollywood or Bollywood clichés, you must see 'Ten Canoes'.

Reviewed by howard.schumann 10 / 10 / 10

Informative and entertaining

For the Australian Aborigines who are said to date back 65,000 years, the ancestor spirits are still alive. They are a part of an Aborigine's "dreaming" and come to life in the stories indigenous Australians have told through the ages. Playfully narrated by Australian icon David Gulpilil, Ten Canoes, directed by Rolf de Heer (The Tracker) and Peter Djigirr, tells a dreaming story that acts as a lesson for a young man in the tribe who feels that the youngest wife of his older brother should be his. The story has elements of kidnapping, sorcery, and revenge but is mostly about values: how a community living in a natural environment before the coming of the White man developed laws and systems to guide its people. The cast consists of indigenous residents of the Arafura region and many of the visuals recreate the photographs of Donald Thompson, a Melbourne anthropology professor who spent time in the 1930s with the Yolngu people of the Arafura Swamp. Set a thousand years ago in central Arnhem Land near the Arafura Swamp in northern Australia, east of Darwin, a group of Ganalbingu tribesmen embark on a hunt for magpie geese, a wild bird used to sustain the tribe. To navigate the crocodile-infested swamp, elder Minygululu (Peter Minygululu) leads the tribe in building canoes made out of bark. When he discovers that Dayindi (played by Gulpilil's son, Jamie) has a crush on his third wife, he tells him a story set in a mythical time after the great flood that explains how his people developed laws to govern their behavior, the same laws used by the tribes today. To distinguish between the past and the "present", De Heer uses muted color to show the ancient landscape and black and white for the more modern story. In the beginning, Ridjimiraril (Crusoe Kurddal) lives with his three wives, Banalandju, Nowalingu (Frances Djulibing), and Munandjarra in a camp with others, including Birrinbirrin (Richard Birrinbirrin), an overweight elder whose sole pleasure in life is to eat honey. Ridjimiraril's younger brother, Yeeralparil (Jamie), who lives in the single men's camp, fancies the beautiful Munandjarra and spends much time stealing visits to the other camp, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. When a stranger approaches without warning, the men are frightened, especially when he tells them that he wants to trade objects of magic. The local sorcerer warns the men of danger but life proceeds normally until the jealous Nowalingu disappears after a fight with Banalandju. Though the others believe that she simply ran away, Ridjimiraril is convinced that she was abducted by the stranger and receives confirmation for his fear when an old uncle appears and says that he saw his wife in a camp with the stranger. The men are galvanized into action and a war party is prepared. Through myth and illuminating visuals, Ten Canoes generates a greater awareness and understanding of indigenous Australian culture and acts as an impressive counterweight to the argument that Aborigines should give up their past and join the modern world. That the film is entertaining and deeply moving as well as informative is a very welcome bonus indeed.

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