Movie Review:“Ten Canoes” (2006)

Movie Review

Ten Canoes” (2006) is a revolutionary Australian film directed by Peter Djigirr and Rolf de Heer. The movie presents the audience with a tale from the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land, depicting their religion, beliefs, and cultural practices. The main themes in the story include lust, revenge, love, birth, mortality, and death, just to mention (Ten Canoes, 2006). The movie is set in Northland Australia within the Arafura wetlands and is based on a story about a goose-egg hunting mission conducted by ten men. The group is led by Minygululu, who discovers that his younger brother, Dayindi is attracted to his younger wife. As a result, he decides to narrate to him an ancestral narrative with the aim of teaching his younger brother a lesson regarding the customs and moral codes of conduct of their community.  In this regard, the events in film unfold from the past and constitutes of a story within a story.

The narrator in the film (Minygulu) guides the audience throughout the film and makes it possible for them to comprehend the different timeframes captured in the story. In other words, the narration is used to contextualize and frame the cosmology of the Yolngu people (Riphagen& Venbrux, 2013). In this regard, the narrator acts as the keystone that connects both the ancestral past and the more mythical past of the story, by bringing it back to the present, thus reminding the audience that it is his story (Riphagen & Venbrux, 2013). That is to say, his aural presence moves across the time periods and connects his story and individuality to the community, despite the fact that he is not a visible character in the film.  In this case, the narrator helps the audience understand the message being depicted in the movie.



Ten canoes” create a significant innovation in the history of the Aboriginal community and allows other people to appreciate and have a glimpse into their world. The ten canoeist in the film speak more than one language illustrating the richness of their culture and significance of cultural diversity within the community (Riphagen & Venbrux, 2013). In other words, it creates a reflection that affirms their cultural practices and beliefs, thus presenting other indigenous communities with the possibilities for linguistic and cultural resurgence (Riphagen & Venbrux, 2013). In this regard, the movie challenges some of the notions presented by non-indigenous people concerning the aboriginals. It also presents an opportunity for other similar communities to air their stories and present their ideologies and beliefs to the rest of the world through entertainment, thus promoting cultural diversity.

The Red Balloon, (1956) is a revolutionary children movie of all time, directed and produced by Albert Lamorisse. It depicts the tale of a young boy (Pascal), who discovers a stray balloon that appears to have a will and mind of its own. The boy and the balloon become inseparable, after it begins to follow him wherever he goes. It, however, gets him into trouble on several occasions during their adventure through the streets of Paris. For instance, the balloon follows Pascal into the classroom on one incident and end up causing an uproar from his fellow classmates, thus attracting the principles attention, who then decides to punish him by locking Pascal in his office until school is over (Marcel, 1956). The movie ends when Pascal encounters a group of bullies who steal the balloon from him and later destroy it with slingshots. Pascal is later surrounded by all the balloons in Paris that take him on a ride through the city.




The “Red Balloon” captures the themes of friendship, adventure, and bullying, just to mention. The movie is set in Paris, in the Ménilmontant neighborhood and paints a clear picture of the innocence in children and their untarnished view of the world. It showcases the uncanny behavior of the balloon in an indirect manner such that the viewer is left wondering whether the balloon is actually alive or being swayed by the wind. In this regard, the producer of the film avoids committing the audience and himself to a supernatural explanation, thus making the story more interesting (Marcel, 1956). The Movie also portrays the form of bullying that often takes place in schools and different neighborhoods. It also manages to illustrate the emotional distress that the victims of bullying go through. In this case, it compels the audience to sympathize with the victims and feel no remorse for the bullies in question.

The symbolic nature of the “Red Balloon” can hardly be lost by the viewer despite its simplistic nature. The balloon appears to be representing something that is supernatural, loving, and sympathetic towards the child. It follows the boy everywhere, despite the fact that it is rejected and ridiculed by some members in the society (Thomas, 2013). For instance, it is rejected by the church, school, the people on the streets, and Pascal’s mother, just to mention. It, however, sticks to the boy to the point where it is destroyed and causes other balloons to come and rescue Pascal from the bullies in the streets (Thomas, 2013). In this case, some scholars argue that the movie probably represents Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That is to say, there is a hidden meaning behind the balloon.




Marcel CamusThe Red Balloon (1956), Films Montsouris, 34 min.

Riphagen, M., & Venbrux, E. (2013). Ten Canoes: Ten Canoes Ten Canoes [One hundred and fifty spears, ten canoes, three wives… trouble], a film by Rolf de Heer and the people of Ramingining, 2006; c. 90 mins. Balanda and the Bark Canoes, a film by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr, 2006; 52 mins. Distribution in the US: Palm Pictures, 76 Ninth Avenue, Suite no. 1110, New York, NY 10011. Website: http://www. tencanoes. com. au.

Ten Canoes (2006) 90 minutes. Film Finance Corporation Australia, South Australian Film Corporation, and Palm Pictures.

Thomas, J. (2013). Studying Le ballon rouge with false beginners. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 10(1), 151-154