14 Oct ten canoes themes
There had been strife between the tribes and Japanese pearl fishermen, and some police had also been killed. There was no tin, no plastic, everything was degradable. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. When I was in Rawapingi for the first time, I stayed in a house that seemed fairly well built and designed for the conditions. Richard Phillips: Could you tell me about anthropologist Donald Thomson and how his photos helped inspire Ten Canoes? It is important to appreciate the immense importance of storytelling to the Yolngu people. The film couldn’t be made if they didn’t feel that they had ownership of the process. RH: The most recent media campaign started the day I left for Cannes,so I don’t really know all the latest details about what they’ve been saying. Unfortunately all the film footage—more than 20,000 feet of it—was destroyed in a Melbourne warehouse fire in the 1960s, which was a real tragedy. Thomson persuaded the government to send him and told them he could sort the problems out—and he did. As the unseen Storyteller (David Gulpilil) tells us, ‘It’s not a story like your story, but it’s a good story’. For example, one of the most pervasively damaging images of Aboriginal dwelling camps is the rubbish. The tree metaphor is used continuously throughout Ten Canoes and is a useful way of thinking about the story as something that gradually grows and branches out in different directions. Ten Canoes opens with a long helicopter tracking shot along a river and into the spectacularly wild Arafura Swamp. These conflicts were usually over women. Those elements of the movie set in ancestral times are filmed in colour, while the hunting trip is shot in black and white. So the story developed through the resolution of all these issues. In the prologue (the external layer) The Storyteller describes the creation of the land and his own birth. Ridjimiraril’s final dance and the traditional ceremonies of fellow tribe members coming to terms with his death, have a luminous beauty. Without repeating the entire story, Minygululu’s tale involves sexual jealousy, kidnapping, sorcery, inter-tribal conflict and customary law. But I hope the film doesn’t find an audience because it is used in this particular debate. This attitude has changed, of course, but it took time. Ten men, under the leadership of tribal elder Minygululu (Peter Minygululu), are preparing to hunt magpie geese, a wild bird that provides eggs and meat for the tribe. Film reviews, criticism and discussion by Thomas Caldwell, [UPDATE: 14 June 2010 – This article is now available online in full here.].
The dominant culture has told them often enough that they are useless, they don’t work, they don’t get the kids to school, they throw rubbish out, etc., etc. Ten Canoes illustrates the power of storytelling and how it creates a relationship not just between all the characters from the various parts of the film, but with the audience watching the film. The first-ever movie made in the Ganalbingu language, its story is relatively simple and bound together by a light-hearted English-language narration by Gulpilil. And this is what Aboriginal people wanted from the film, because most of them have such low self-esteem. De Heer’s film is certainly not a revolutionary work and some scenes lack dramatic tension. The Storyteller then begins to describe his ancestors, taking the audience to the next level of storytelling, which concerns the story of young Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil) on his first goose egg hunting expedition. My job was to show them how to make what they wanted work for them, and for a cinema audience in the rest of the world. I actively avoid analysing what I do, because if I have a special reason in mind for making a film and the themes I want to deal with, it becomes contrived.
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