Ten Canoes (2006, Rolf de Heer)

IMDB and recent reviews don’t list the same credit as the film’s official site & poster: “A Film By Rolf de Heer and the People of Ramingining”.

Young black-and-white Jamie Gulpilil (narrator David’s son) has a crush on his dad’s third wife. He’s joining the older men for the first time on the annual goose-hunt, and along the way, his dad tells Jamie the full-color story of a similar young man (also Jamie) in a similar situation, and how that turned out (father and another man dead, son comically inherits all three wives).

Lovely sidetrack details along the way, like the goose hunt itself (camping up in trees to escape crocs), the sorceror who watches over the town, and the rules that all tribes obeyed to prevent war.

David Gulpilil is humorously telling us the story of the black-and-white movie, which presents the story of the color movie, the hand-me-down nature calling attention to the storytelling itself and the fact that the events are said to have occurred many generations ago. The movie then collapses that sense of endless time by rendering the oldest events, the lesson-teaching ancient story, in vivid color, particularly in the lush greens of the trees and plants.

Apparently the production team strove hard for authenticity, adapting Aboriginal stories to bring the natives’ voices to multiplexes and call attention to the idea that they don’t need the modernization that is being forced upon them. Gulpilil tells us “it’s not your story – it’s MY story”, and so it’s unlike anything else in theaters, in storytelling and in visual style. Great movie, liked it even more than I thought I would. Katy liked, too.

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