Phillip Noyce’s brilliant
is the perfect story for illustrating the indignation of racist
government policies. In America, we have policies which encourage
authorities to detain and stop ethnically diverse people,
subjecting them to cruel treatment in the process. Going back
historically, we also can illustrate the assimilation of Native
American cultures into Western society, where millions lost their
lives in the name of a
better, more justified
Phillip Noyce’s brilliant “Rabbit-Proof Fence” is the perfect story for illustrating the indignation of racist government policies. In America, we have policies which encourage authorities to detain and stop ethnically diverse people, subjecting them to cruel treatment in the process. Going back historically, we also can illustrate the assimilation of Native American cultures into Western society, where millions lost their lives in the name of a “better, more justified” culture.
“Rabbit-Proof Fence” tells a story of racial injustice so shocking that it defies belief, and the policy was not gotten rid of until around 1970 – going strong for 70 years – which points to the backward nature of the Australian government, which supported it with vim and vigor. The policy was for Australian authorities, who wished to assimilate Aboriginal tribes into the official culture, to forcibly take biracial Australians (offspring of Aboriginals and White Australian settlers) from their homes and resettle them in “training” camps. Indoctrination was their goal, and intimidation and force was the Aussie way of doing it. By any means necessary, their demand was for the Aboriginal children to adope White culture while throwing their “damaging” ritual culture away. The story that follows is no less moving than the extraordinary story of the Underground Railroad, where thousands of American Black slaves were helped to escape the South.
Minutes into the film, 14-year-old Molly (Everlyn Sampi), with her cousin Gracie (Laura Monoghan) and sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury), are brutally whisked away from their quaint home in Jigalong.
We watch along in silent horror, right with Molly’s mother (Ningali Lawford) and grandmother (Myarn Lawford), who are unable to react in any way. The girls next find themselves in a horrible, military boot camp with the name of the Moore River Training School, where the kids are subjected to the racist cruelty of its master, the insidious A. O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh).
He wickedly uses his authority to torture them with threats, explaining to his captives that any attempt to escape will be punished harshly. In constant fear, few girls ever try to escape, for they most surely will be hunted down by the tracker David Moodoo (David Gulpilil), an Aborinal Black man who works for his White masters, the ultimate Uncle Tom.
But the girls see no future without their family, so they plan and execute a daring escape, not realizing that their preferred destiny is 1,500 miles away.
Now “Rabit-Proof Fence” becomes the most unique road picture ever made, because these girls depend upon the kindness of strangers for their success in their trek. If they meet up with wrong-minded people, they could be returned to the authorities and possibly would be split up, so their audacity is inspiring. Watching the girls on their trek is touching, uplifting and awesome. The action remains constant, and every turn they take is filled with surprises. There also is much humor and giving spirit in the film.
“Rabbit-Proof Fence” is exactly the type of film that we need to see more of, in the name of positive social change for the world as a whole. This sickening racist policy never has been acknowledged by the government of Austrailia, although official documentation and video interviews confirm that it happened to hundreds of thousands between the years 1900-1970. This brave, uplifting film should be seen by all who wish to be informed of the grave injustices this world sometimes brings.
RABBIT-PROOF FENCE. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Written by Christine Olsen, based upon the book by Doris Pilkington. With Kenneth Branagh, Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan and David Gulpilil. Not Rated (violence, mature themes, would be PG-13), 96 minutes. Now playing at Bay Area theaters.