Between 1905 and 1971, more than half a century, the Australian government (white Australians) used mandatory force to rip families apart in the Aboriginal communities; compulsorily removing the Aboriginal children from their homes, transporting them 1500 miles away to specially designed camps, training them to be domestic servants. The rationale behind this, excuse my language, is fucking unbelievable!! The indigenous people were placed with white families, in hopes of producing children of mixed races, who, over generations would become whiter and white, forcing the black color to recede from Australia. This was the brilliant idea of AO Neville, the Chief Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia.
The film Rabbit-Proof Fence, depicts the true experience of three young Aboriginal girls who were apart of AO Neville’s appalling plan for an all-white Australia; Molly (Everlyn Sampi) who is 14, her 8 year old sister, Daisy (Tianna Sansbury), and their 10 year old cousin, Gracie (Laura Monaghan). Director Phillip Noyce and screenwriter Christine Olsen brought to life the novel written by Molly’s granddaughter Doris Pilkington Garimara; Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Rabbit-Proof Fence starts off in the tiny community of Jigalong in Northwestern Australia, near the edge of the Gibson Desert. Through this community, there is a rabbit-proof fence, which spans the entire length of Australia, north to south; it was built to keep the country’s rabbits on one side and its pasture land on the other. Neville, hearing about the three girls in Jigalong, authorizes their kidnapping, ordering them to be placed at the Moore River Native Settlement, located some 1500 miles away. Constable Riggs, following his orders, didn’t realize the fight he would have when he tried taking the children away. He had to overcome the powerful grasp of the girls’ mothers. Now, at the “Settlement,” the children are forbidden to speak their native language, they are forced to conform to religious and spiritual beliefs outside of their own, and told that they don’t have mothers. Well, none of this sat well with Molly, the eldest of the three; she wanted no parts of this. She decides, when the next opportunity arises, she will flee the “Settlement” with her sister and cousin. That day came, thus beginning their long trek back to their families in Jigalong. The majority of the movie, from here out, focuses on the girls’ three-month journey through forests, fields, and desert, along with the trials and tribulations that come along with it.
Learning of their escape, Neville sends out a party of men and an experienced black tracker named Moodoo (David Gulpilil) to track and bring them back to be punished with solitary confinement. Walking barefoot, with the hot desert sun beaming on them, the girls fed on the kindness of those along the way, and the intuitive, resourceful guidance of Molly; they were able to find enough food and water to keep them going. At one point in the movie, it almost seems as though they will not make it, but they stumble upon the rabbit-proof fence, which serves metaphorically as the umbilical cord to their mothers.
I will leave that as my cliffhanger, hopefully enticing you to check out this extraordinary film. Rabbit-Proof Fence could have easily been turned into a film about the brutality put forth by white Australians, but instead this is a film about the ignorance of those who claim to be dominant, resilience, indomitable courage, and family bonds. I can’t say enough about the performances given by the girls; they were the heart and pulse of the film. They captured the feelings and emotions of the young child inside of you, just as if you were searching for your mother or loved one. In my opinion, the girls, especially Molly, gave one of the most remarkable child performances I’ve ever seen. One last thing, the cinematography was incredible. The visuals of the lush and colorful Outback, blended with this amazing story made for a striking film.
This is a must see for all ages. Check out the trailer and place this film in your Netflix queue.