Release Date: June 1st, 2007 (Cinema Village) by Palm Pictures.
The Cast: Crusoe Kurddal, Jamie Gulpilil, Richard Birrinbirrin, Peter Djigirr, Peter Minygululu, Frances Djulibing, David Gulpilil, Johnny Buniyira, Cassandra. Directed by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr.
In English, Ganalbingu and other Australian Aboriginal languages with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Over a thousand years ago in northern Australia, Minygululu (Peter Minygululu) teaches his younger brother, Dayindi (Gulpilil), a morality tale about Yeeralparil (Gilpilil), who coveted Munandjarra (Casandra), one of the wives of his older brother, Ridjimiraril (Kurddal).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Ten Canoes has a compelling and occasionally absurd plot with lively characters and a very witty script. It opens as a storyteller (voice of Peter Gulpilil) introduces the characters, namely, Minygululu and Dayindi in the present and Ridjimiraril and his tribe in the past. Dayindi has feelings for one of Minygululu’s wives. Instead of scolding him, Minygululu recalls the similar tale of Ridjimiraril, a warrior. Ridjimiraril is the only member of his tribe who hasn’t found a wife yet, so he covets one of the wives of his older brother, which leads to chaos and conflict within the tribe—especially since he can’t even get close to her. Many of the characters are interesting in their own unique ways, even the other tribe members, such an old man who is obsessed with eating honey. There’s an odd subplot involving the search for the person responsible for leaving a turd on another tribe’s territory; a few bloody scenes feel similar to the violence in Apocalytp. This narrative-within-a-narrative structure, admittedly, is slightly difficult to get used to at first because writer/co-director Rolf de Heer shoots the present scenes in black-and-white and the past scenes in color, where the breathtaking scenery looks picturesque and vibrant. Rolf de Heer does a great job of incorporating absurd humor along with an imaginative drama, which makes for a wildly entertaining experience.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The basic moral lessons include listening to and respecting your elders and not taking what doesn’t belong to you—such as somebody’s wife. It’s quite thought provoking how we civilized people struggle to abide by these very same morals a thousand years later.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Wildly imaginative, compelling and breathtaking.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater.
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