Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Ten Canoes

(Australia, 2006)

Here is a movie in the Ganalbingu aboriginal language, with an all-aboriginal cast. It is a simple tale, simply told, though fantastically photographed. Don’t expect great acting, these are all non-professionals. But there is a great deal of humor in it, and the fascination of seeing a way of life so different from ours it might as well be another planet. I was reminded a bit of Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), set in a radically different place, with an all-Inuit cast speaking Inuktitut. What did they have in common? Well, for one thing, these Stone Age people were doing pretty well in an environment that would have killed me in 24 hours. Probably less, in the case of the Inuit, though the Australian bush held dangers we didn’t see much of. For instance while filming it they employed 11 people whose only job was to be on the lookout for crocodiles, which frequently eat humans in this part of Australia.