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Rabbit-Proof Fence
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by Robert Flaxman

"Powerful and important."
5 stars

The United States is still coping with the fact that racism was legal within its borders as recently as the 1960s. It will continue to cope with this fact for years to come, but it is a small problem compared to the one still faced in Australia, where between 1900 and 1970 it was perfectly legal for the government to take half-Aboriginal children away from their Aboriginal parents, for what it claimed was their own protection.

Because of Aboriginal marriage laws, half-caste girls were taken sooner than half-caste boys - the idea being that if half-caste girls were prevented from marrying full-blooded Aborigines, within a few generations the black population would be stemmed and then eventually wiped out. The policy, then, was nothing more than eugenics.

Rabbit-Proof Fence is set in 1931, when A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the "Chief Protector" of Aborigines in Western Australia, issues an order to take half-castes Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury), and their cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) from their home in Jigalong in northwest Australia and transport them to a camp in the south where they will be trained to become domestic servants.

As most girls were taken early, few of the girls at the Moore River camp remember their mothers - but Molly does. With Daisy and Gracie reluctantly following along, Molly embarks on a journey to get back to Jigalong - a 1200-mile walk. The girls are tracked by Moodoo (David Gulpilil), an Aboriginal tracker who works for the government, but when they lose him at a river, Neville puts out an APB. It thereafter becomes a scramble as the girls try to avoid their captors while making an exceedingly hazardous journey over punishing terrain.

Rabbit-Proof Fence's story is a very simple one, but the emotional impact of the film along with its importance as a historical document keep things moving. So, too, do the performances of the child actors, none of whom had ever acted or even seen a movie before. They're not exactly Oscar-caliber, but their naturalistic charm is impressive given the obvious limitations. Sampi in particular is able to say a lot with her eyes, which she is called upon to do frequently.

Another thing the movie has going for it is the landscape of Australia, a starkly beautiful continent. The terrain over which the girls scamper is forbidding at most times, but it remains a marvel of natural beauty and acts as a jaw-dropping reminder of how empty much of Australia is, and therefore just how difficult and dangerous this trek, which took the girls several months, was. (The state of Western Australia holds under two million people - and well less in 1931 - in nearly a third of Australia's total land area; in other words, it fits something like the population of Houston into an area more than three times as big as the entire state of Texas.)

The viewer will certainly root for the girls to get home, out of Neville's clutches. (Branagh plays the chief protector perfectly - he sincerely believes every word that comes out of his mouth, no matter how odious, and Neville's depiction as a stiffened bureaucrat is disturbingly priceless.) But Rabbit-Proof Fence's story is not a happy one; it is merely meant to be instructive, or cautionary if you consider the adage that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. The film's epilogue is touching but also heart-breaking.

Clinging to a continent that had been theirs alone for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of the white man, the Aborigines are the world's forgotten people, casually lumped in, solely because of their skin color, with black Africans (from whom they are as genetically distinct as whites are) or ignored altogether. The Aboriginal story is an interesting, important one, and it needs to be told.

Rabbit-Proof Fence is a necessary start.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5779&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/11/04 04:40:11
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User Comments

4/13/16 Katrina Weiss Very determined kids, but a bittersweet ending. 4 stars
2/14/11 daveyt harrowing subject and well acted by the girls, 1500 mile journey made to look far too easy 3 stars
7/22/10 amartha i love this movie...emotional 5 stars
7/21/08 BOOFA This movie is horrible. The sense of distance isn't shown well and it's just another Bmovie 2 stars
3/18/08 shit head it was mad 4 stars
11/16/06 kara very good but i found molly didnt express the way she should of 4 stars
10/16/06 jose bererro awsome. to cool 4 school 5 stars
10/07/06 SL too plain, and authenticity of the Stolen Generation is questionable.. 2 stars
9/12/06 JR Sad that so few people will love and understand this movie. 5 stars
11/29/05 S A McKinley heartwrending 5 stars
11/07/05 none of your bisness stooooooooopid 1 stars
11/01/05 summer a quality film!!! worth a 10 star rating!! 5 stars
10/26/05 Lin Great and worth watching it 5 stars
10/24/05 Jo A good movie and definately worth watching! 4 stars
10/23/05 shandelle good 4 stars
8/26/05 ES Holy boring, why do critics rave about should obviously poor movies 1 stars
6/13/05 none great movie 5 stars
5/23/05 Linda Sharpe Very moving, similar to what happened to the mixed race children in Zimbabwe. 4 stars
3/10/05 Steph Awe-inspiring drama. Its so beautiful 5 stars
10/16/04 Charlene Javier Powerful doesn't begin to describe this. 5 stars
10/06/04 john bale No doubt well meaning in its way but a serious distortion of the truth. 3 stars
8/11/04 psycho dwarf avoids treacly pitfalls of the "kids with a cause" genre. 4 stars
4/17/04 anon Loved it 5 stars
4/01/04 Kaytie Chasm Its Fukn good aye ! itz really kool 1 stars
3/17/04 damien dylanson the movie sucked 1 stars
3/16/04 Dan Mackay Nothing over the top 3 stars
1/23/04 VW AMAZING, loved it! 5 stars
11/26/03 Sarah Packard It wasn't bad. Eye opener to what life was like for the half castes. Sad to watch 3 stars
11/09/03 Maysa Ashhab The best drama I have seen for years 5 stars
11/02/03 tehla levin it is excellant i loveit 5 stars
9/19/03 Jinnvisible Fine Film , Kenneth Branagh suits his rascist role, I wish he wasn`t in it, piss off Ken!! 4 stars
8/29/03 Kelly Mellinger touching and fascinating-not the best acting but good from kids who weren't actors to start 4 stars
7/20/03 matthew green filmmaking that stays out of the way, letting the amazing story tell itself. 5 stars
5/11/03 y2mckay Opens eyes to a dark chapter in Aussie history, but sometimes feels empty as the outback 4 stars
5/01/03 Diana Collado Great performance by the girls 4 stars
4/16/03 skye chapman could've and should've been so much more engaging 3 stars
4/02/03 Native American These are our stories. White people must see the RAPE of people and culture they commited 5 stars
1/21/03 Pinkline Jones Good film - Everlyn Sampi and co very good. Disturbing. 4 stars
12/17/02 Heather Great cinematography and Peter Gabriel soundtrack, a must see 5 stars
11/24/02 Colin Selby A MUST SEE MOVIE 5 stars
11/20/02 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng Excellent movie. People who wish to see something different should really watch this one. 5 stars
10/23/02 Kelly Excellent 5 stars
9/28/02 Peter Sherlock A good try but ultimately a poor film. 3 stars
8/13/02 sam not bad and worth seeing if you want something new 4 stars
5/25/02 Hollie although it acked quiality acting and screen play, the overall power of it did some justice 4 stars
5/17/02 Amber Jarman Very good the best movie great acting involved 5 stars
5/17/02 viking Unforgetable !!! 5 stars
5/10/02 Catherine Cho really really really really cool 5 stars
4/28/02 Amy An excellent and most carefully detailed account of the stolen generation, must see!! 5 stars
4/27/02 Ella Hatten Its ok 3 stars
4/13/02 Tom Morgan Biased, I agree with the review, purely used to pull heartstrings, 2 stars
4/13/02 Pam Quite well done 4 stars
4/04/02 THIS MOVIE SUCKS R P F IS GAY 1 stars
4/03/02 Your dad Absolutley Brilliant! two very enthusiastic thumbs up 5 stars
3/28/02 Holly Salter Too timid. Probably because the director is afraid of upsetting Australian racists. 3 stars
3/24/02 your mum sucked ass 1 stars
3/21/02 Sartaj The movie is a profound experience. 5 stars
3/13/02 David An excellent Australian film - especially so, given the current climate. 4 stars
3/12/02 Matthew shit, biased 2 stars
3/09/02 nicholas mills this film is heart warming and unforgettable 5 stars
3/03/02 Jeff Walters Absolutely terrific. 5 stars
3/02/02 Lucas See it. Simple amazing story, well told! 5 stars
2/28/02 Vaughan Subtle and clever Sublime and cutting to whites. 4 stars
2/27/02 carp shit 2 stars
2/24/02 ^Elendil^ This is an amazing story. 5 stars
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  29-Nov-2002 (PG)



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