| 28 August, 2018 11:26
There is a real feeling of engagement from the very beginning of Rolf de Heer’s “Ten Canoes”. I had a good time with this film for many reasons but mainly because he creates a realm which forces participation. This is where art lives. This space is not to be entered thoughtlessly. de Heer gives us this space by slowly unfolding the story of his ancestors. I felt, as the characters in the story did, as if I was being held in a place between the present and a distant past.
I recently visited an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. The sculptor’s intention was to create a sense of place. I didn’t know what the installation was about but when I entered into it, I had a feeling of personal involvement. I wanted to explore and listen. This listening is what a good storyteller does and de Heer was able to make me listen intently. He stimulated the senses which creates a feeling of being in a particular place.
There was so much beauty in this film. I will mention the making of the canoes for one. I loved the simplicity of the process of making the canoes and the way the men enjoyed their time while working. Again, de Heer was able to let us into the process and actually learn how the canoes were made, step by step. The story goes on while we are learning without even thinking about learning. This is teaching at it’s best! I fell in love with the canoe!
The beautiful characters, their beautiful bodies and their beautiful way of
life was depicted in a very tactile, sensual manner. Jamie Gulpilil as Dayindi is so adorable, it is quite believable when at the end of the movie, his three new wives are all fighting over him like crazy.
Ridjimiraril’s death dance and all the ritual following, including the painting of his body in order for his soul to find it’s way back to the water hole where it will wait for it’s next life, is astounding. It honors death and allows for the tribe to let go of Ridjmiraril by becoming part of his death process, helping his soul to be released from the body. This emphasis on participation in life and death gives the culture depicted in the film and the film itself a quiet dignity.