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Ten Canoes (2006)

1:59 | Trailer
In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us a story of his people and his land. It's about an older man, Minygululu, who has three wives and realizes that his younger brother Dayindi may try to steal away the youngest wife.


Rolf de Heer
17 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


One Hundred and Fifty Spears, Ten Canoes, Three Wives... Trouble. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The photo, of a group of ten men in their bark canoes on the swamp, was profoundly cinematic. It spoke of a world of long ago, where things were different, life was different to anything that could be imagined by almost any Balanda anywhere. To enter that world would be the essence of real cinema. And there were more of these photos. The film had started to form. 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 »

Alternate Versions

There are currently three versions of the film:
  • (1) the Yolngu languages dialogue version with English subtitles and narration storytelling spoken in English by David Gulpilil;
  • (2) the Yolngu languages dialogue version with English subtitles and narration storytelling spoken in Mandalpingu by David Gulpilil;
  • (3) the Yolngu language only version without any subtitles
See more »


Featured in Ten Canoes: Interview with Peter Djigirr (2007) See more »

User Reviews

National Geographic documentary with dramatic overtones
14 May 2012 | by mukava991See all my reviews

"Ten Canoes" resembles a National Geographic documentary with dramatic overtones and is sometimes hard to follow due to the thick accent of the narrator but it's nevertheless absorbing due in part to its very oddness, being a story about aboriginal Australians (though written, directed and shot by a Caucasian team headed by director Rolf de Heer). Structurally it is a story within a story about a how a tribe in the pre-colonial period handled the sudden disappearance of one of its female members. The story allows de Heer to illustrate how members of this primitive community were not so very different from ourselves in their essential human characteristics. The mere placement of a group of naked, primitive people as central characters in a fictional motion picture drama is, to Western eyes, enough to command the attention. The more or less constant narration tends to hinder dramatic development so that we never connect deeply with any of the characters yet we empathize with their predicaments. Generally speaking, it paints a sympathetic picture of a people whom fate has brutalized and who now are only beginning to recover and get back a sense of who they are and what they come from, in part through films like this one.

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Aboriginal | English

Release Date:

29 June 2006 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Ten Canoes See more »


Box Office


AUD2,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,076, 3 June 2007

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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