Screen cap from promotional trailer
form y Ten Canoes single work   film/TV  
Note: Written in consultation with the people of Ramingining.
Issue Details: First known date: 2006 2006

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

A story within a story and overlaid with narration, Ten Canoes takes place in two periods in the past. The first story, filmed in black-and-white as a reference to the 1930s ethnographic photography of Donald Thompson, concerns a young man called Dayindi who takes part in his first hunt for goose eggs. During the course of several trips to hunt, gather and build a bark canoe, his older brother Minygululu tells him a story about their ancestors and the old laws. The story is also about a young man who had no wife but who coveted one of his brother's wives, and also of the stranger who disrupted the harmony of their lives. It is cautionary tale because Minygululu is aware that Dayinidi desires his young and pretty third wife.

The second story (shot in colour) is set much further back in time. Yeeralparil is a young man who desires the third wife of his older brother Ridjimiraril. When Ridjimiraril's second wife disappears, he suspects a man from another tribe has been seen near the camp. After he spears the stranger he discovers that he was wrong. Knowing that he must face the man's relatives he chooses Yeeralparil to accompany him during the ritual payback. When Ridjimiraril dies from his wounds the tribe's traditions decree that Yeeralparil must inherit his brother's wives. The burden of these responsibilities, however, is more than the young man expects.

Notes

  • The promotional trailer for this film is available to view via YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vzf9BAVGZc (Sighted: 28/9/2012)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Ten Canoes as a Communist Film Darren Jorgensen , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Australasian Cinema , vol. 10 no. 1 2016; (p. 168-175)
'This essay thinks through the populist Marxism of Bertolt Brecht, and more specifically his courtroom challenge to the film industry, in order to interpret the Australian film Ten Canoes as a communist film. The idea of communism has recently been proposed by French philosopher Alain Badiou as a way of naming projects that are not only anti-capitalist, but that also suggest alternative modes of organisation. Ten Canoes actualises Brecht's ideas about what a collective filmmaking process might consist of, and more significantly what it might look like. The stilted acting, multiple storylines and structure of the fable that Brecht employed in his theatre productions are also visible in Ten Canoes, forms that resulted from a filmmaking process that involved extensive consultation with a remote Australian Aboriginal community. Its members made decisions about the film's story, script and casting. This coincidence between a German theatre director's ideas and twenty-first-century cinema points to a coincidence of aesthetics and politics, to which this essay gives the name communist.' (Publication abstract)
Ten Canoes Rewatched – Ethnographic Document Meets High-spirited Whimsy Luke Buckmaster , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 3 January 2016;

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
De Heer's Story of Country Helps Heal Penelope Debelle , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 19 April 2014; (p. 4)
Respecting Protocols for Representing Aboriginal Cultures Jared Thomas , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;
'This essay undertakes a detailed discussion of how respecting protocols for representing Indigenous cultures supports the interests of Indigenous communities and producers of stories with Indigenous content. To highlight the importance of Indigenous protocols I review the prominence and reception of Aboriginal stories in Australian film and literature and discuss how protocol guidelines can prevent problematic representations. I demonstrate how protocols influenced writing Calypso Summer (2014), a novel exploring issues relating to my cultural group, the Nukunu, to illustrate the challenges encountered and benefits gained from employing Indigenous representation protocols. ' (Author's introduction)
The Great Tradition : A Lilyin Song from Cape Leveque Stephen Muecke , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Telling Stories : Australian Life and Literature 1935–2012 2013; (p. 404-410)
Ten Canoes as ‘Inter-Cultural Membrane’ Anne Rutherford , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Australasian Cinema , October vol. 7 no. 2-3 2013; (p. 137-151)
'This article examines the ways in which Ten Canoes (de Heer and Djiggir, 2006) works as what Nicholas Rothwell has called ‘an inter-cultural membrane’. The article scrutinizes the rhetoric developed around the film, exploring questions around ownership, cultural mediation and the authorial voice. An extended interview with the co-director, Rolf de Heer, examines the production process to explore the structuring of the film through script, shooting and editing and the double process of pragmatics and aesthetics that drove the production process. The article proposes reframing the question of authenticity as fidelity to the complexities of the present, rather than fidelity to the past. It argues that an attempt to fully understand and articulate the complex dimensions of cultural exchange, collaboration and cultural translation, and the complex intermeshing of hybrid cultural and aesthetic notions, would produce a more productive and dynamic debate around the interface of cultural exchange than currently emerges from the rhetoric around the film. The article argues for an engaged and dialogic approach to film criticism, grounded in cultural research, in which the conceptual paradigms and speaking positions of the critic are equally opened to scrutiny.' (Author's abstract)
Ten Canoes and the Ethnographic Photographs of Donald Thomson : ‘Animate Thought’ and ‘The Light of the World’ Anne Rutherford , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cultural Studies Review , 1 March vol. 18 no. 1 2012; (p. 107-137)
'This article explores the genesis of the film Ten Canoes in the photographs taken by anthropologist Donald Thomson, in Arnhem Land, in the 1930s. Thomson's images profoundly informed the look and content of the film, and the paper traces this genealogy in order to identify a 'cultural imaginary' at work in the film. I argue that a close study of Thomson's original photographs reveals an approach to photography and to culture that dramatically exceeds the boundaries of the detached anthropological/scientific gaze. Thomson's vision is a highly tactile one. His images are as much an encounter with the light of the world as they are a document of a time, an environment and a culture; his lens is as much an organ of touch as an instrument of observation. In a remarkable example of what Tim Ingold has called 'animate thought', Thomson uses the materiality of photography to make manifest a life-world in which reeds, water and sky are as animate as human figures. Not easily accessible to established criteria for analysing ethnographic images, such as questions of self-reflexivity, Thomson's polycentric images profoundly challenge the humanist assumptions of many contemporary approaches to reading images. This insight raises new questions about both ethnographic photography and the relationship between the photographs and Ten Canoes.' (Author's abstract)
Seriously Funny : History and Humour in The Sapphires and Other Indigenous Comedies Rose Capp , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , July no. 63 2012;
'The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, 2012) opens in an idyllic rural setting. A group of young Aboriginal girls run home across the paddocks in the fading evening light to sing for a gathering of family and friends. But this benign atmosphere rapidly switches to terror as white Australian Government officials arrive on the scene and forcibly remove one of the girls from the Cummeraganja Mission community. It is the late 1960s, and State and Federal Government "child protection" policies allow the removal of so-called "half-caste" Aboriginal children from their families, leaving a devastating and traumatic legacy that the film goes on to address.' (Author's introduction)
Ten Canoes: Engaging Difference Lyn McCredden , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Australasian Cinema , vol. 6 no. 1 2012; (p. 45-56)
'In a reading of the Rolf de Heer film Ten Canoes this article explores the pervasive, contemporary challenge of culture difference and its representation. Focusing on notions of sacredness, as one node of extreme difference, the article argues that older formulations of sacredness which bifurcated spirit and flesh are now being replaced by more holistic understandings. As western film audiences engage with representations of difference in Indigenous cultures, a set of questions are raised: what is the nature of real dialogue between different cultures? Can such dialogues move beyond mute recording, or silent respect, or automatic celebration? Can they enter a new space of dialectical relationship in which different cultural perspectives can be fully investigated, without making the other culture a static, or oversimplified or iconic abstraction?' (Author's introduction)
Unsettled : On Teaching about Aboriginal Australian Religion in an American Liberal Arts College Mark Larrimore , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 26 no. 2 2012; (p. 222-228)
y Reel Locations : The Ultimate Travel Guide to Aussie Films Anthony Roberts , Prahran : Explore Australia , 2011 Z1793927 2011 single work prose travel 'Did you know that because baby pigs grow at an alarming rate, 48 pigs were used for the filming of Babe? Or that the town of Poowong in South Gippsland was selected for the premier of Kenny? Reel Locations: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Aussie Films is a book for anyone with an interest in Australian films - and for those wanting to relive the magic that was created. Covering 20 iconic Australian flicks, film buff Anthony Roberts not only details what locations were used for particular scenes, but also offers travel information on what you'll see if you visit these locations now, as well as where to eat and where to stay. A vibrant design, film stills and many quirky facts round out this enjoyable book that is ideal for both armchair travellers and eager tourists.' (Publisher's blurb)
Australian Voices : Presence and Absence in the Senior Literature Classroom Prue Gill , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Teaching Australian Literature : From Classroom Conversations to National Imaginings 2011; (p. 31-51)
'Recently I listened to an Indigenous educator respond to the draft Australian Curriculum and it would be hard to have been in that audience and not be infected by the sheer relief expressed, that at last the knowledges of Indigenous peoples will be brought into the curriculum in a consistent and self-conscious manner. This at least is the potential of the curriculum, as this educator saw it. While most of us at the forum were expressing disappointment about what we saw before us as an atomised, technicist approach to English in the consultation draft, with its attendant matrix of strands, standards and levels, here was a firm reminder of the nature of 'standpoint'. Despite many of the criticisms voiced about the Australian curriculum, and the sense of opportunity lost for an imaginative national discussion about what we value as important learning, I've heard no one question the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives...' (From author's introduction, 31)
Poetry as Cinema : A Discursive Screening from 1913-2006 John Jenkins , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 71 no. 3 2011; (p. 135-148)
'Australian cinema began with a confident leap into the future. Charles Tait's The Story of the Kelly Gang, made in Melbourne in 1906, is credited as the world's first narrative feature. Post-Federation years continued to see poetry influence the national imagination, and occasionally inspire cinema on its journey.' (Author's abstract)
Reconciliation and the History Wars in Australian Cinema Felicity Collins , 2011-2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Exhuming Passions : The Pressure of the Past in Ireland and Australia 2012; (p. 207-222)
'When The Proposition ( a UK/Australia co-production, directed by John Hillcoat and scripted by Nick Cave) was released in 2005, film reviewers had no qualms about claiming this spectacular saga of colonial violence on the Queensland frontier as a 'history' film. A reviewer on BBC Radio 4 described The Proposition as 'a bushranger Western...set in violent 1880s Australian outback exposing the bitter racial tensions between English and Irish settlers. A Sunday Times review declared that 'Australia's brutal post-colonial history is stripped of all the lies in a bloody clash of cultures between the British police, the Irish bushrangers and the Aborigines.' Foregrounding the film's revisionist spectacle of colonial violence, an Australian reviewer predicted that, despite 'scenes of throat-cutting torture, rape and exploding heads...The Proposition could be the most accurate look at our national history yet'. (Author's introduction, 207)
Indigenous or Exotic? Trees in Australian Cinema Chris Mann , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Etropic : Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics , no. 10 2011; (p. 141-152)
'This article examines trees in three Australian films to assess if they are seen from a white point of view or an Indigenous point of view.' (Author's abstract)
Let’s Play the Game : Readers and Renderings of AL Teresa Podemska-Abt , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kategorialne aspekty komunikacji 2011; (p. 147-172)
Reading, Modernity, and the ‘Mental Lives of Savages’ Ian Henderson , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2010;
'This speculative article juxtaposes a series of impressions, like so many flashes of light, from which to suggest a change in European reading which coheres, at the turn of the twentieth century, around perceptions of Australian Aboriginality. The impressions have three sources: (a) high-profile British novels of the 1850s and 1860s with settings in, or significant references to, the Australian colonies; (b) 'discoveries' made by scientists of reading after 1878; and (c) the work of deeply influential European modernists James Frazer, Sigmund Freud, and Émile Durkheim, whose theories of the evolution of religious belief made extensive use of Francis Gillen's and Baldwin Spencer's work on the Arrernte people, notably The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899); the article focuses particularly on Freud's Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics. Thus using impressions of nineteenth-century physiological optics, the science of reading, and Freud's evolutionary psychology it develops a model of 'how readers were thought to have read' in the early decades of the twentieth-century in terms of a rhythmic release and containment exploitation/management) of savagery-neurosis.' (Author's abstract)
Reeling Back Representation in Indigenous Filmmaking : Atanarjuat and Ten Canoes Andrea Mackinlay , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Canadian Studies , vol. 28 no. 1 2010; (p. 49-56)
Film provides a mediation space in which to negotiate the imaginative, the narrative, the social, and the political, and especially the past, present and future - in the seemingly unbridgeable gap between pre-colonial story and contemporary technology. This article argues that the films Atanarjua and Ten Canoes are complex and authentic Indigenous cultural artefacts that represent a space of Indigenous self-determination and self-representation in the modern world. They attempt to authenticate their legitimisation of ancient traditions and their positive representation of traditional life to current generations through their contribution to a bright future in the continuance of the millennia-old oral storytelling tradition. As such, they are regarded as watershed representations in the ever-evolving canon of Indigenous oral storytelling in their respective countries, and throughout the wider global context.
Beyond Good/Should/Bad : Teaching Australian Indigenous Film and Television Therese Davis , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Continuum : Journal of Media & Cultural Studies , vol. 24 no. 5 2010; (p. 799 - 804)
Indigenous Talent 'Needs An Agency' Victoria Laurie , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 26 January 2009; (p. 8)
Canoes Float Over Culture Gap Stephanie Bunbury , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 21 May 2006; (p. 6)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Ten Canoes Takes Us for a Great Ride David Stratton , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 10-11 June 2006; (p. 9)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Journey to a Lost World Phil Brown , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Brisbane News , 21 - 27 June no. 592 2006; (p. 27)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Film : Ten Canoes Shane Brady , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Brisbane News , 28 June - 4 July no. 593 2006; (p. 36)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Taking Audiences on a Wonderful Journey Dougal Macdonald , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 1 July 2006; (p. 26)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Privileged View from the Inside Paul Byrnes , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 1-2 July 2006; (p. 15)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
A Welcome Surprise Chris Bartlett , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Mail , 2 July 2006; (p. 11)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Untitled Margaret Pomeranz , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Limelight , June 2006; (p. 44)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Retrieving Histories Evelyn Hartogh , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Politics and Culture , no. 3 2006;

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Aboriginal Life without the Colonial Backdrop David Streader , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Eureka Street , 25 July vol. 16 no. 9 2006;

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Ten Canoes Cast Attend the World Premiere 2006 single work review
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 23 March vol. 5 no. 101 2006; (p. 26)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Aboriginal 'Comedy' Wins Aussie/NZ Film Festival in France 2006 single work review
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 19 October vol. 5 no. 116 2006; (p. 9)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Ten Canoes Overshadows New Film Michael Gadd , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 8 March vol. 6 no. 124 2007; (p. 9)

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Untitled Kira Eghbal-Azar , 2007-2008 single work review
— Appears in: Zeitschrift fur Australienstudien , no. 21-22 2007-2008; (p. 237-239)

— Review of The Tracker Rolf De Heer 2002 single work film/TV ; Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Ten Canoes Rewatched – Ethnographic Document Meets High-spirited Whimsy Luke Buckmaster , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 3 January 2016;

— Review of Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer 2006 single work film/TV
Ten Canoes a First 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 12 April no. 373 2006; (p. 34)
In Search of Lost Time Garry Maddox , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 20-21 May 2006; (p. 18-19)
Top End Tales Nicolas Rothwell , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 27-28 May 2006; (p. 4-6)
Rothwell discusses a range of Australian films in which Aborigines have been depicted. He focuses particularly on Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes and Kim McKenzie's documentary, Fragments of the Owl's Egg.
Canoe Culture Bridges Gap Philippa Hawker , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 3 June 2006; (p. 17-18)
Tribal Voice Claire Scobie , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Sunday Life , 11 June 2006; (p. 25)
Up Hit Creek Sacha Molitorisz , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 23 June 2006; (p. 4)
Ten Canoes Shines at Cannes 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 21 June no. 378 2006; (p. 44)
Why This Film is Not to be Missed Jim Soorley , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Sunday Mail , 2 July 2006; (p. 21)
Oscar Next for 'Ten Canoes' 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 13 September no. 384 2006; (p. 45)
Ten Canoes Continues On Its Winning Course Angela Bennie , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 7-8 October 2006; (p. 10)
Films In Line for History Awards 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 27 September no. 385 2006; (p. 67)
Once Upon a Time an Anthropologist Watched Men Hunt in 10 Canoes Bridie Smith , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 16 December 2006; (p. 7)
Photographs which Donald Thomson had taken in 1937 of the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land became inspiration for the film Ten Canoes.
Ten Canoes Paddles Its Way to Cannes 2006 single work review
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 4 May vol. 104 no. 5 2006; (p. 41)
Sombre Realisation Amid the Glee Garry Maddox , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 9-10 December 2006; (p. 10)
2009 an HSC Odyssey Hannah Edwards , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 22 July 2007; (p. 9)
The column discusses the new draft list of works to be taught in New South Wales schools from 2009. Only the new Australian works to be added have been listed here.
No Oscar for Ten Canoes 2007 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 25 January vol. 6 no. 121 2007; (p. 13)
Ten Canoes Wows Danish Audience 2007 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 5 April vol. 6 no. 126 2007; (p. 12)
The Denmark Film Festival gave the film Ten Canoes, from Australian director Rolf de Heers the NatFilm Festival's Audience Award.
Who Wrote Ten Canoes? L. R. Hiatt , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , November vol. 51 no. 11 2007; (p. 70-75)
The Other News 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The National Indigenous Times , 13 December vol. 6 no. 144 2007; (p. 6)
You've Come A Long Way Baby 2008 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 2 July no. 429 2008; (p. 3)
Last amended 11 Mar 2015 14:30:06
Settings:
  • Arnhem Land, Top End, Northern Territory,
  • 1000-1099
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