Film: Rabbit-Proof Fence
Cast includes: Kenneth Branagh (Pirate Radio), Everylyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, David Gulpilil (Ten Canoes)
Director: Phillip Noyce (Salt, The Quiet American)
Genre: Historic based drama (2002)
In brief: In 1931, the State of Western Australia passed the Aboriginal Act. It gave the state the right to remove half-caste children from their aboriginal families and place them under the legal guardianship of A.O. Neville. Molly and Daisy were two half-caste sisters, living in Jigolong with their aboriginal family, which included their half-caste cousin Gracie. Their fathers had been white men, who came to the area to work on the rabbit-proof fence and moved on when the Jigolong section was completed. The three girls… Molly the oldest at 14, Daisy the youngest at 8… had been happily living in their aboriginal community until the order came to remove them.
At the Moore River Native Settlement, almost 1,200 miles south of Jigolong, the girls meet their legal guardian, A.O. Neville. And we have a chance to learn more about the Aboriginal Act. Neville explains that without the Act, Australia is in danger of having a 3rd race of people… neither black nor white. Just like the rabbit-proof fence separates rabbits from farmland, the Act is needed to get this problem under control. Looking at a photo, we learn how in just three generations of breeding half-castes to whites, “no trace of black color remains.” It’s for their own good… the half-castes “are given all the advantages our culture has to offer.” But why is it that they keep trying to escape? In no time, Molly has made up her mind to take Daisy and Gracie and get back to Jigolong.
The odds are totally against the success of three girls making it home… the distance, the hunger and thirst, the elements…not to mention the tracker on their trail. When days go by without catching them, the mission takes on all the characteristics of a military operation… plotting their course on maps, stories in the newspapers and reported sightings. The odds of them making it home or being able to stay free are certainly against them. But it’s a compelling story that keeps us engaged from beginning to end. The Act wasn’t overturned until 1970, and today the victims are known as the “stolen generation.” Many have forgotten this dark chapter, but Rabbit-Proof Fence recaptures some of it and makes it very real.
4 popped kernels
Excellent script and excellent acting by a cast of mostly non-actors.