the fresh films reviews

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Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Philip Noyce
Rabbit-Proof Fence
94 minutes
Philip Noyce
Christine Olsen
John Winter
Screenwriter (based on a book by Doris Pilkington):
Christine Olsen

Cast includes:

Molly Craig Everlyn Sampi
Daisy Kadibill Tianna Sansbury
Gracie Fields Laura Monaghan
Moodoo David Gulpilil
Maud Ningali Lawford
A. O. Neville Kenneth Branagh
Constable Riggs Jason Clarke
Molly's Grandmother Myarn Lawford
Mavis Deborah Mailman



Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on a true story from Western Australia about three half-blooded Aboriginal girls aged 8 to 14 who in the 1930s were removed by force from their mothers in order to be anglicised. The corrupted view of the authorities was that the indigenous traits of these children (who today are known as "the stolen generation") would be gradually erased if they were assimilated by the white society. A. O. Neville, the public servant who was in charge of the official policies, represents a stance which was sadly prevailing at the time; that the mixing of the races was something we should try to avoid, in order to maintain a "clean" white race.

Philip Noyce takes charge and brings along an idealistic sense of justice, if not a completely unbiased approach. There is little doubt that the officials and enforcers are depicted in a stereotypical manner (even with Kenneth Branagh as the face of the government), but I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the horrible stances they convey, and the purity which these girls and Noyce seek to attain reflect no grudges or vengeance - all they want is to get it right.

The human and emotional drama has an intrinsic strength which cannot be overlooked, and the girls, while underplayed by the three young leads, powerfully convey the simplistic but immensely strong nature of their characters. There is a timeless purity to this primal road-movie which has more weight than the political injustice the western society committed towards ethnic minorities during the last couple of centuries. And, as Noice claims through his visuals towards the end, we must perhaps accept that there are something in the tradition of these people that the modern westerners might not be able to grasp fully. Possibly with the exception of Peter Gabriel, who joins in with a musical journey almost as adventurous as the journey of our three little protagonists.

Copyright 3.9.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang