Ten Canoes (2006)

Unrated  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Drama  |  29 June 2006 (Australia)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,636 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 37 user | 52 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

A story within a story. In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us one of the stories of his people and his land. It's a story of an older man, Minygululu, who has three wives and ... See full summary »


Watch Trailer
0Check in
15 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Tracker (2002)
Drama | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

It's 1922; somewhere in Australia. When a Native Australian man is accused of murdering a white woman, three white men (The Fanatic, The Follower and The Veteran) are given the mission of ... See full summary »

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: David Gulpilil, Gary Sweet, Damon Gameau
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Blackfella Charlie is out of sorts. The intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws now. So Charlie takes off, to ... See full summary »

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: David Gulpilil, Peter Djigirr, Luke Ford
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A seven-year-old girl adopts a vow of silence in protest when her quarrelsome parents grow increasingly hostile to one another.

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Celine O'Leary, Chloe Ferguson, Paul Blackwell
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Samson and Delilah's world is small- an isolated community in the Central Australian desert. When tragedy strikes they turn their backs on home and embark on a journey of survival. Lost, ... See full summary »

Director: Warwick Thornton
Stars: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A regular suburban family man comes home from work on his birthday to find a deserted house and a videotape waiting to be played...

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Gary Sweet, Helen Buday, Bogdan Koca
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a trek across the Outback.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Kenneth Branagh
Epsilon (1997)
Sci-Fi | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

In this sci-fi adventure a gorgeous alien woman is sent to Earth by mistake from the planet Epsilon. Landing in the Australian outback she meets a surveyor and they cross the continent ... See full summary »

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Ullie Birve, Syd Brisbane, Alethea McGrath
Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Bubby has spent thirty years trapped in the same small room, tricked by his mother. One day, he manages to escape, and, deranged and naive in equal measures, his adventure into modern life begins.

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill
Twelve Canoes (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Directors: Rolf de Heer, Molly Reynolds
Comedy | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A young couple buy a house but their neighbor is a drug dealer who originates many troubles so they create a plan to move him out.

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Roman Vaculik, Michaela Cantwell, Lily Adey
Dr. Plonk (2007)
Action | Comedy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A scientist & inventor in 1907, Dr Plonk, predicts that the world will end in 101 years, unless something is done about it. A comedy in the Charlie Chaplin / Buster Keaton tradition.

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Nigel Martin, Paul Blackwell, Magda Szubanski
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A woman trapped in a twisted body from her bouts with the debilitating cerebral palsy communicates with the world via her computer with a voice box. Her caretaker is a short-tempered woman ... See full summary »

Director: Rolf de Heer
Stars: Heather Rose, Joey Kennedy, John Brumpton


Cast overview, first billed only:
Crusoe Kurddal ...
Jamie Gulpilil ...
Dayindi / Yeeralparil (as Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu)
Richard Birrinbirrin ...
Peter Minygululu ...
Frances Djulibing ...
The Storyteller (as David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu)
Sonia Djarrabalminym ...
Cassandra Malangarri Baker ...
Philip Gudthaykudthay ...
The Sorcerer
Peter Djigirr ...
Canoeist / The Victim / Warrior
Michael Dawu ...
Canoeist / The Stranger
Bobby Bunungurr ...
Canoeist / Uncle
Johnny Buniyira ...
Billy Black ...
Steven Wilinydjanu Maliburr ...


A story within a story. In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us one of the stories of his people and his land. It's a story of an older man, Minygululu, who has three wives and realizes that his younger brother Dayindi may try to steal away the youngest wife. So, over a few days and several trips to hunt and gather, Minygululu tells Dayindi a story set in the time of their ancestors when a stranger came to the village and disrupted the lives of a serious man named Ridjimiraril, his three wives, and his younger brother Yeeralparil who had no wife and liked to visit his youngest sister-in-law. Through stories, can values be taught and balance achieved? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Ten canoes, three wives, one hundred and fifty spears...trouble See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

29 June 2006 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

10 Canoes  »

Box Office


AUD 2,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$233,017 (Australia) (7 July 2006)


$277,991 (USA) (12 October 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The canoes in the film were made according to original tribal methods, using directions from tribal elders who had not made them for some fifty years. See more »


The group: [all walking in a line]
Canoeist: Everyone stop!
[all stop and turn]
The Storyteller: That one is Djigirr. Djigirr talk too much, but maybe he heard something.
Canoeist: I refuse to walk at the end. Someone ahead keeps farting.
The group: [laughter] Not me. Not me.
Canoeist: It's you again. You're always so silent. Silent but deadly. Admit it.
Canoeist: Alright, it's me.
Canoeist: You're rotten inside.
Canoeist: I'm rotten inside.
See more »


Featured in Reel Injun (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Not likely to see anything like this ever again
19 April 2009 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

This story begins with an aerial flyover of Arnhem Land in northern Austalia. A narrator comes on saying that he is going to tell a story, his story. His story starts with the recounting of a tale about his ancestors of a few generations back who are making canoes to traverse a crocodile-filled swamp in search of goose eggs. Within that tale a wise older man is telling another, somewhat parallel, tale to his younger brother dating back many generations to "the ancients." In a clever plotting device the ancestor's tale is shown in black and white while the ancient's tale is shown in color. This technique has the dual effect of allowing director Rolf de Heer to duplicate scenes from black and white photographs taken in the area by an anthropologist in the 1930s (photographs that motivated the making of this film), as well as helping the viewer keep the stories straight.

The cast consists of a few dozen modern day aboriginals playing the parts in the two stories. They try to capture the reality of the times portrayed, and you can believe that this was the way it could have been thousands of years ago for a tribe of early humans. The earlier Astralians have their own customs and language and the cast speaks in their native language, with English subtitles. I kept thinking of how the basic emotions driving the stories are still with us--fear, jealousy, lust, love, trust, distrust, pride, humor, courage, loyalty, honor. The culture presented is indeed not mine, but it is perfectly understandable. Sorcerers keep the tribe stirred up and mystified with special knowledge of "magic," just as modern religions do (with equal effectiveness). There are laws that must be obeyed, even if unwritten. The young men relish showing prowess in hunting and war making. A creator is deemed the prime mover. Marital relationships are not always harmonious, especially if polygamous. And so on.

It appears that no matter how it manifests itself a culture will wrap itself around basic human emotions and desires. It would not be a stretch to recast these stories in a modern setting.

The photography of the landscape is beautiful and sensuous; it contributes greatly to the stories by showing what an intimate relationship early peoples had with the land and its fauna.

This movie helps us better appreciate where we came from and what we are.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Correction to imdb entry jaffas
Distribution? slyde23
Other 'full immersion' movies ? Dargaud
Question, what was lesson? Bluebell18
Evil Won-tolla
Region One? egartley
Discuss Ten Canoes (2006) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: