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Rabbit-Proof Fence
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Doris Pilkington (book), Christine Olsen (screenplay)
Starring: Evelyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, David Gulpilil, Ningali Lawford, Kenneth Branagh
Language: English

Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: serious, true?!?
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Based on a true story, Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the astounding tale of three young Aboriginal girls, fourteen-year-old Molly, her eight-year-old sister Daisy, and their ten-year-old cousin Gracie. The three girls are happily living with their mothers and grandmother in the small village of Jigalong when one day, officials storm into town and take Molly, Daisy and Gracie away with them. It's 1931, and it's the official policy of the Australian government that all "half-caste" (half Aborigine, half Caucasian) children are to be removed from their Aboriginal families and placed into orphanages, where they'll be taught how to act like a white person along with other "useful" skills. In the eyes of the man in charge of instituting such policies, Mr. Neville, the government's doing these children a big favor by helping them integrate into "civilized" Australian society. To the children and their parents, of course, the arrogance of these white men in power is just plain cruel. Fifteen hundred miles away from their home, Molly, Daisy and Gracie refuse to adjust to life at the Moore River orphanage camp. When Molly spies an opportunity for escape one day, she gathers up her sister and cousin, and three girls make a run for it. Though the authorities send both policemen and an Aboriginal tracker on their trail, Molly's far cleverer and more resourceful than anyone anticipates. Making their way slowly on foot, following the rabbit-proof fence (a fence stretching all the way down the center of Australia, built to keep the rabbits on one side, the farm animals on the other), Molly, Daisy, and Gracie struggle to find their way back home.

Review I've always been the sort of person for whom anger brings forth tears far more readily than sadness. Movies about people dying of some horrible disease don't generally make me feel remotely like reaching for a tissue. But I can't watch a story about injustice without an invisible rope tightening between my belly and my throat, my eyes filling up as I swallow the indignation. Sitting through some of the earlier scenes in Rabbit-Proof Fence, listening to Mr. Neville spout his totally misguided, righteous garbage and watching the three girls literally torn away from their screaming families, made me mad enough to draw tears. The story of the Stolen Generation, as victims of this period in Australian history are called, is just horrible, horrible, horrible — and the most horrifying thing of all is when learn at the epilogue of the film that the practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families and forcing them into white Australian society continued until 1970. In other words, it all happened not so terribly long ago. The subject matter of Rabbit-Proof Fence is inherently powerful, but Philip Noyce's film is well worth watching for many other reasons as well. Filled with gorgeous views of the Australian outback, the movie is redolent with potent, evocative images that stick with you long after the movie's over. But it's the astounding performances of the child actors that really makes Rabbit-Proof Fence so genuinely moving. There's none of the usual annoying kid actor cutesy-ness to get in the way of real emotion, and Evelyn Sampi (Molly) and Tianna Sansbury (Daisy) in particular are scary good. For a thorough understanding of the complexities of the Stolen Generation issue, of course, you'll have to read up on the history, but Rabbit-Proof Fence offers a gripping, ultimately inspirational story that's sure to hit you in the emotional gut. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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