How to be who you are or who you will be is an underlying theme in this refreshing and innovative approach to traditional indigenous story telling. Community life is never as simple as it may appear and making straight forward life decisions will always have more repercussions than what may be anticipated. Ten Canoes begins with the telling of a story while it is never clear where the boundaries between the story teller and the story are in either narratives. This analogical working of two stories therefore sets an intriguing interplay, quietly assuming a backdrop to the theatrics of the protagonists as they fluff and display their manly attributes as the ‘normalcy’ of community life is shattered.
Ten Canoes has been a long time coming as an intuitive and sensitive portrayal of the life stories of the people of Ramingining. Second to this is its contribution to film making, as it portrays beyond the preordained parodies normally attributed to an indigenous people, even within such contemporary movies as Australia (2008). And, as with the best kind of stories it leaves you pondering the significance of some minute detail, whether in the dialogue or an individual's expression, while overwhelming your senses with incredulous panoramic cinematography.
Ten Canoes is beyond the ‘amazing’ action scenes (or the impossible action scenes!) of Hollywood and the dramatic caricatures of so-called actors, declaring its intent from the opening lines "it's not your story it's my story”. With this simple aim it becomes a story for everybody, told through humour it is a fable of our fallible humanity.