Ten Canoes


Ten Canoes

Critics Consensus

Ten Canoes combines adventure, comedy, and anthropology to explore an Aborigine folk tale both fallibly human and legendary. Helmer Rolf de Heer depicts a barely represented oral tradition with a clean style.



Total Count: 65


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,920
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Movie Info

A fusion of Yolngu and Western mythologies, set in Arnhem Land 120 years ago, the story tells a Yolngu tale before the first white contact.


Crusoe Kurddal
as Ridjimiraril
Jamie Gulpilil
as Dayindi/Yeeralparil
Peter Djigirr
as Canoeist/The Victim/Warrior
Peter Minygululu
as Minygululu
Johnny Buniyira
as Canoeist/Warrior
Michael Dawu
as Canoeist/The Stranger
David Gulpilil
as The Storyteller
Julie Djelrr
as Camp Woman
Valerie Malibirr
as Camp Woman
Rico Pascoe
as Honey Boy/Messenger
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Critic Reviews for Ten Canoes

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (28)

Audience Reviews for Ten Canoes

  • Dec 11, 2010
    Surprisingly frank and irreverent.
    Robert F Super Reviewer
  • Oct 24, 2008
    Philosophy of the wise and of the Methuselah.Now really,the ancient language fashion is withering,yes?Unless you bring a true auteur with the name of Rolf de Heer and condemn Mr. Gibson to eternal damnation.Pure and locomotive direction and the b/w interaction with the vibrant antique era is engaging to the folktale narration.
    Dimitris S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2007
    Although strange and never-before-seen are the most obvious words to describe <i>Ten Canoes</i>, after watching the film you get this slight feeling that you just witnessed something great. Well, I did anyway. <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w25/EarthlyAlien/TenCanoes.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a> Winner of the Special Jury Prize at last year's Cannes, the film - the first entirely in Australian Aboriginal languages - is a sort of part adventure, part comedy, and part anthropological lesson. A highly unusual, metaphoric and unprecedent cinematic delight by dutch-born australian Rolf de Heer. Narrated in English - unlike all the dialogues, entirely done in Yolngu - by David Gulpilil (one of Australia's most renowned actors, who you might know as the Aborigine boy from Nicolas Roeg's <i>Walkabout</i>) who starts by warning us that what we're about to see is "a story like you never seen before", the story of his people and his land. The set is the Arafura Swamp of Northern Australia, in the town of Ramingining in the hoary and secretive forests of Arnhamland, a thousand years ago, long before the arrival of Europeans. We come to know Minygululu and Dayindi, two brothers who, along with eight other canoeists, are about to go on a seasonal goose-egg hunt. When Minygululu, the older brother and group leader, finds out that the young Dayindi has a crush on the youngest and prettiest of his three wifes he, hopping to avoid a possible conflict, chooses to tell his brother a story of an earlier generation of brothers who faced a similar problem. The story, told throughout the entire film, turns out to be a tale of honor and bravery that also, being everything but short, turns out to teach Dayindi another virtue: patience. With a Nonlinear Timeline, the film unfolds in two different time frames - one a thousand years ago, while Minygululu tells Dayindi the story - and the other further back still, where the story itself occurs. Even though it may seem confusing at times, especially because the same actor (Jamie Gulpilil; David Gulpilil's son in real life) appears in both segments, playing both yougmen, Dayindi and Yeeralparil, you always know where you are because the first story is shot in black and white, the far older one in vibrant color. Besides Rolf de Heer, writer and director, and his co-director Peter Djigirr, who obviously deserve all the credit, Ian Jones is also one of of most important assets. His cinematography is simply exquisit, with extremely vibrant colors and photographic black and whites, that make <i>Ten Canoes</i> what it is, a beautifully visual and poetic film. A look at ourselves as human beings and a reflection on what it means to be 'human'.
    Pedro P Super Reviewer
  • Sep 02, 2007
    Simple aboriginal tales of their ancestors' tribes, with typical humour.
    Ross C Super Reviewer

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