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Ten Canoes
Ten Canoes
Actor: David Gulpilil; Crusoe Kurddal; Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu; Richard Birrinbirrin; Peter Minygululu; Frances Djulibing; Sonia Djarrabarlminym; Cassandra Malangarri Baker; Philip Gudthaykudthay; Jamie Gulpilil
Director: Rolf de Heer
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2007     1hr 32min

Bonus Features: — Balanda and the Bark Canoes: The Making of Ten Canoes (12min) — Aerial Map of Arnhem Land — Interview with Peter Djigirr — Interview with Director Rolf de Heer — Photo Gallery: Thomson Photographs Revisited — U...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: David Gulpilil; Crusoe Kurddal; Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu; Richard Birrinbirrin; Peter Minygululu; Frances Djulibing; Sonia Djarrabarlminym; Cassandra Malangarri Baker; Philip Gudthaykudthay; Jamie Gulpilil
Director: Rolf de Heer
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: Palm Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/25/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Ancient Culture Becomes Transcendent Through Modern Cinema.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 10/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Ten Canoes" unusual story-within-a-story structure allows a glimpse of one Indigenous Australian culture while it offers a timeless fable with enough drama to satisfy both Western and Yolngu tastes. The film was conceived by writer/director Rolf de Heer as a project for and about the native people of Arnhem Land in Northern Australia, from whence his friend actor David Gulpilil, who narrates the film, hails. The film's style and narrative structure were inspired by the photographs of anthropologist Dr. Donald Thomson, who took over 4,000 pictures of the Yolngu people in the 1930s while their ancient traditions were still widely practiced, including an iconic photo of ten canoeists on a goose egg hunt.

As the film opens on the beautiful blue and green of Arnhem Land, a Storyteller (David Gulpilil) introduces us to a story of his people, of the young man Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil) who covets the youngest wife of his older brother Minygululu (Peter Minygululu). While Dayindi experiences his first goose egg gathering expedition with the men in Arafura Swamp, his brother tells him a tale of their ancient ancestors to guide him: Among the ancients, there was a young man, Yeeralparil, who also fancied the youngest of his warrior brother Ridjimiraril's (Crusoe Kurddal) wives. One day, a Stranger (Michael Dawu) appeared in camp to trade objects of sorcery. He was sent on his way with food and good wishes, but a cloud of misfortune and ill will remained behind.

"Ten Canoes" offers drama, humor, and a striking visual exploration of a traditional culture and the lands that shaped it for millennia. The goose egg hunt sequences are in black-and-white, placing them in "Thomson Time", as they recall and dramatize the photographs that captured that annual ritual. It seems strange at first to see a sun-drenched swamp in black-and-white, but the heavily highlighted foliage lends the scenes an appropriate mythical quality. Working with mostly non-professional actors who speak limited English, in keeping with their tribal laws, presented some hurdles which were surmounted in part due to the efforts of actor Peter Djigirr, whom Rolf de Heer credits as co-director. There is nothing remarkable about the story told in "Ten Canoes" but the telling itself is hypnotic and transcendent. In English and Ganalbingu with optional English subtitles.

The DVD (Palm 2007): There are 5 bonus features. "The Batandu and the Bark Canoes" (51 min) is a documentary narrated by Rolf de Heer about making the film, from its inspiration, to casting, the obstacles of traditional kinship laws, working with the actors, etc. It's an interesting and well-produced sort of director's journal. "Aerial Map of Arnhem Land" (3 min) is an attractive aerial survey of the area that zooms in and out on its own. "Thomson's Photographs" (3 min) is a slideshow of some of Donald Thomson's photos compared to the film, which attempts to recreate them. "An Interview with Director Rolf de Neer" (4 min) talks about the evolution of the idea for the film. "An Interview with Peter Djigirr" (4 min) discusses the meaning of the film to Yolngu culture."
Ten stars for Ten Canoes
prawnhead | wollongong nsw | 02/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am very surprised at the first review that has been posted. If the story didn't capture your imagination, then I cannot comprehend how the cinematography didn't - visually, it is amazing and beautiful!

If you want un-subtle hollywood-type action, then this film is definitely not for you - you will not be spoon-fed. It is humourous (not in an overt, shove-it-in-your-face way), and the characters well developed (also unheard of in most mainstream h-films). The shifting time structures also emphasise the way that the oral tradition is used within the film. For those with time to allow their imagination to go beyond the horizon, then I would definitely recommmend this film for you!"
Aboriginal adventure downunder
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 12/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As art house films go, this movie is very good, maybe even exceptional. On the other hand, if you like Hollywood type movies, than you might want to pass. However, even if you are not inclined to the type of movies that don't get the publicity or distribution and are stacked thirty deep at your local movie rental conglomerate four months later, you still might enjoy this movie. Remember the Australian classics The Last Wave - Criterion Collection, Walkabout - Criterion Collection? Well, this will probably someday be considered alongside those movies as great movies from Australia. Coincidently , David Gulpili, who starred in the aforementioned movies, narrates , often times tongue in cheek, and as he says ,that is another story. The storytelling is superb, a story within a story, an adventure for the ages and a moral tale that doesn't club you upside the head. The humor is great, it is funny stuff that transcends the cultural differences.The scenery is spectacular, especialy on your giant screen with surround sound. You will feel as if you are walking with the aborigines. The mixture of mystical shamans beliefs and otherworldly scenery, shifting from black and white to color is hallucinatory and adds an extra dimension to an already multi-layered on many levels movie. The ages old lust-for-your-brother's wife is the vehicle for the narration as you join in the adventure two fold(two different time periods)in creating ten canoes from scratch(pulling the bark)as the men embark on a journey that reveals the past in the present. One of the features to not be missed is the making of the movie extra that is included. The directors, Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr, take you through the scenes and you see just how difficult it was to get the aboriginal "actors" to act so naturally. It is amazing because they come across so natural in their roles, but it did require alot of coaching. The directors, did a marvelous job and the result was a superb movie. If you are in the mood for some National Geographicesque tribal scenes (some nudity), exotic landscapes and an adventure back in time, then check out this Australian flick that is soon to be a classic.
Ten Canoes to yous
J. Connor | 11/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ten canoes is a charming, delightful in depth look into the aborigines of Australia. The film captures the beauty of Australia's Northern Territory as it opens upon the green landscape "in a land far, far away." It explores the lives of the aborigines while at the same time revealing an unknown culture before the Balanda (white person) took over. We would have never been able to see or experience a culture like this if it wasn't for this film. This is the story of a young man Dayindi who covets one of the wives of his older brother, Minygululu. To teach Dayindi the proper way his brother tells him a story from the mystical past of wrong love, kidnapping, sorcery, and revenge gone wrong. Director Rolf de Heer was inspired by Dr. Donald Thomson who first captured the aboriginal group with an extensive group of photographs, especially one photo of ten men in bark canoes. The movie is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It sends you to a land away from that of Hollywood blockbusters and transplants you into an enchanting hypnotic land of solidarity. I highly suggest it. The bonus features grant the viewer a deeper insight into the making of the film and how difficult of a process it was, especially with non-English speaking actors, yet Heer maintained an authentic quality throughout."