July 26, 2006

Ten Canoes

A new indigenous movie set in Australia:

Aboriginal life without the colonial backdropThe story revolves around a remote Arafura tribe of families, where the old men take several wives, and the younger men in the hierarchy have none. It begins with young Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), falling for his brother’s youngest wife. On a goose egg hunt, his brother regales him with the tale of a time this happened before, and the consequences that ensued from ‘living the wrong way’, or breaking tribal law.

The story snakes away from our expectations, giving us a fascinating insight into the lives and cultures of the characters. Day-to-day life, conflict with other tribes, polygamy, reincarnation, sorcery and payback retribution are all embraced in a natural and non-judgemental manner. As Australian cinema has historically depicted Aborigines in relation to modern-day white society, the pre-colonial setting of Ten Canoes enables us to better identify with the characters.

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