Friday, 13 July 2012

Ten Canoes (2006) Film Review

In the afternoon I watched the film Ten Canoes (2006). I wanted to watch Ten Canoes after watching some good reviews about it back in 2006 after they won six Australian Film Institute awards which is a big deal in Australia. I was also curious about the film as I have an interest in Indigenous Australian culture.

What I loved about the film was that it was filmed entirely in Indigenous Aboriginal languages and that story was set before European settlement/invasion as most period Australian films only go back to colonial times so I was eager to see this film.

On the DVD there are three ways to watch the film, 1. You can watch the film entirely in Aboriginal languages with no subtitles, 2. Watch the film in Aboriginal language with English subtitles or 3. Watch with English narration and English subtitles.  I chose option three as it was labelled the theatrical version and I thought I would understand the story better.

The story set in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory in the lush green but sparse forest and swamp land and begins with narration provided by David Gumpil who says that he’s going to tell a story about his people.  The story is very much like a fairytale and I think he even jokingly begins with “ once upon a time...”

When the story begins, the scenes are in black and white and it’s about ten men going to hunt wild geese and for their meat and eggs. A young man named Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil) covets the wife of his older brother and while they make their canoes and go hunting, one of the elders tells him a story about the ancestors and how another young man had the same problem. The film becomes a story within a story as it shows the life of the ancestors which is filmed in colour and flashes between Dayindi and the men filmed in black and white.

I think it’s a beautiful film and it has a nice gentle pace. It’s kinda like a documentary in that we just watch the characters go through their daily life, the men talk to each other as they collect goose eggs, the women chatter while they forage for bush nuts. There are some funny moments in the film too like when the men are walking single file in the forest and the one at the end calls them to stop because someone in front of him keeps farting.

I recommend this film to people wanting to learn more about Australian Indigenous culture or for people who like to watch dramas. Everyone is naked in the film, think National Geographic so you best watch with mature people who won’t giggle at seeing certain body parts. I think the movie probably isn’t widely available overseas but I think you’ll be able to find it online.


  1. Replies
    1. I hope you do and if you do please tell me, if you like it.

  2. Hello,

    Thank you for the kind words you left on my blog :)


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