Rabbit-Proof Fence 27.04.18 [PG]
Rabbit-Proof Fence is a 2002 Phillip Noyce Australian drama film, based on a non-fiction book by the daughter of one of the main characters, starring Everlyn Sampi, Kenneth Branagh and David Gulpilil, winning best film, best original music score, best sound and best direction awards from the Australian Film Institute.
In Western Australia in 1931, two sisters, Molly (14) (Sampi) and Daisy (8) and their cousin Gracie (10), from Jigalong in the eastern Pilbara, are forcibly taken from their mothers by the local constable, Riggs, on the orders of A.O. Neville (Branagh) the Protector of Aborigines, to be relocated about 1000 miles away at the Moore River camp, an institution for mixed-race girls, to be educated and trained as domestic servants for white families.
Spotting a rain cloud in the sky, Molly leads the other two girls in an escape back home, recognizing that the rain would cover their tracks. The girls sneak off unnoticed, but are pursued by Moodoo (Gulpilil), the institution’s expert Aboriginal tracker. However, well trained in disguising their tracks, they evade him several times, receiving help from strangers during their harsh journey. When they find the rabbit-proof fence, they know this will lead them back to Jigalong. Neville soon works out their strategy and sends Moodoo and Riggs after them, but they outsmart both the tracker and the constable.
Neville spreads word that Gracie’s mother is waiting for her in the town of Wiluna and, on hearing this, an Aboriginal traveller “helps” by telling Gracie and explaining how she can catch a train, resulting in her breaking away from her friends, who are unable to rescue her when she is recaptured by Riggs, with the Aborigine’s help. The sisters are distraught, having to continue their long journey without their cousin and, on reaching home, they go into hiding with their mother and grandmother. By this time, Neville has abandoned his search for them due to insufficient funds.
“The final scene of the film contains an appearance and a revelation of astonishing emotional power” (Roger Ebert) which will undoubtedly invoke shock about inhumanity in recent history
Capturing the strange beauty of the rugged Australian landscape, the emotionally-charged Rabbit-Proof Fence is beautifully shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who was nominated for a Camerimage award for the film and Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack is described as alien and familiar, eerie yet comforting.
The success of Noyce’s well-considered casting of Aboriginal children with no acting experience for the three girls highlights his brilliant directorship. He compares Sampi’s presence with that of Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman. Peter Bradshaw described her “exceptionally strong performance” and she won the best actress award at the Inside Film awards, voted for by the Australian public.