The film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” by Philip Noyce, presenting a tale enriched with optimism and audacity of three little girls, which builds its foundation around the Aborigines Protection Act. Its cruel implementation on almost five thousand children of Australia, who are referred to as the “Stolen Generation”. In 1931, 14-year-old Molly Craig along with her younger sister and cousin were taken away from their home camp of Jigalong, an Aboriginal settlement besides the Rabbit-Proof Fence, in an attempt by the government to breed out the “half-caste” children’s native blood by keeping them in a controlled sanctuary at Moore River native settlement. The transfer was a result of the orders given by A. O. Neville, the official Protector of Western Australian Aborigines. The film captures these heart wrenching events, following the torturous days of their stay at the camp and their subsequent escape as they walk almost 1500 miles to home along the Rabbit-Proof Fence. The girls were challenged by hunger, thirst, tiredness, fear of being captured and the merciless harshness that the scorching deserts of Australia has to offer.
The movie offers minimal dialogues to the audience, but still enslaves them by the graveness of the issue that it depicts. It is a journey of hope, valor and fearlessness as they tread beside the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a fence to keep the wild rabbits away from the farmlands, symbolizing the distance that lied between the children and their families. An important aspect in the movie was how Mr. Neville and the government justified their acts. Driven by, what he considered to be, his evolutionary world view and conventional wisdom, he reasons in support of his doings by saying “If only they (half-castes) would understand what we are trying to do for them”. This concept has blinded men over the centuries when they think what they are doing is for the greater good. The movie also portrayed a beautiful concept that how, at the most hopeless of places, you receive the love of people. As the girls travelled their way back, they were treated mercifully by various strangers, some of them even from the white origins. The children’s dedication to the cause even melts the heart of their tracker, Moodoo who drops his guard in chasing them.
The Aborigine culture and lifestyle is presented in an incredible way by including their cultural songs and activities. Depiction of local fauna, like Goannas and the “Spirit Bird” eagle, when combined with the outstanding cinematography, pays a tribute to the local lifestyle. However, what may be considered by some critics as a slow movie with a biasness shown towards the Australian natives, the film does absolute justice to the greater meaning that it portrays. Closing on an epilogue featuring the real-life footage of Molly Craig and her sister Daisy, Noyce has succeeded in making this dark part of history eternal in the eyes and hearts of his audience. It succeeds in leaving the message to ensure that the injustice of past never succeeds in returning in the lives of the Aboriginal people.
The essence of the movie is a harsh and bitter reality of the past, which cannot be ignored in any case. These children were robbed of their right of an identity, a culture, the love of family, the warmth of home and the right of independent existence. The ink on the pages of history may have been dried, but the memoirs of these atrocities are still alive in the hearts of the victims. Like all such dark events around the globe, these people also deserve a confession by those who were responsible and a promise to a better future, although the impact of such an apology on the hearts of these people, from whom their childhood was stolen, is still questionable.
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