Ten Canoes

To say it's unconventional is an understatement
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To say that Ten Canoes is an unconventional film is an understatement. Set in the distant past, Dayindi, a tribesman on a goose-hunting trip, explains that he covets one of the wives of his older brother. He is told a story from his tribe’s history to set him back on the right path – a tale of inappropriate desires, kidnapping and sorcery.

The innate strangeness of Ten Canoes originates from the necessity to balance the storytelling conventions of the Yolngu people whose history the film depicts with enough drama to make it palatable to a wider audience. The goose hunting scenes, interesting if not scintillating, are filmed in black and white in honour of the work of photographer/anthropologist Dr David Thompson whose photos depicted the Yolgnu history. The more accessible dramatic story is captured in colour.

Whilst Ten Canoes is hard work, the cultural life of the Yolngu provides a solid reward; the concepts of Makaratta and the Death Dance are really quite fascinating.

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