I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.
Title: Ten Canoes
Release Date: 29 June 2006
Director: Rolf de Heer
Production Company: Palace Films and Cinemas
Ten Canoes is a story about Aboriginal people in Australia that is set in a region that has not been influenced by Western colonial settlers so it feels as if it could take place at any time in history. The framing story involves a group of men on an overnight hunting trip by canoe over a large swamp. An older man, Minygululu (Peter Minygululu), observes that a younger man, Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), desires his third wife. Over the course of their multiple day journey, Minygululu tells Dayindi a story with the moral lesson of why Dayindi should respect the tribal customs and laws.
All of the characters speak in their native tongues of the Yolŋu Matha language group but there is voiceover narration in English from David Gulpilil (known for his roles in Walkabout, Crocodile Dundee, and Rabbit-Proof Fence). The framing story is in a crisp black & white while the main story is in full color. In the flashback story, we learn of a man named Ridjimiraril (Crusoe Kurddal) who suspects a stranger of kidnapping his second wife, leading to conflict with a neighboring tribe. There are some grim moments in this movie with violence and death, but also a lot of humor and whimsy, such as Dayindi growing bored with the story.
The scenery in this film is gorgeous and is captured in the brilliant cinematography. While the movie is directed by a white man, it feels about as close as possible to Aboriginal people telling their own story in their own style through film.