Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)


Based on the book by Doris Pilkington, “Rabbit Proof Fence” follows the early nineteen hundreds when the government would take Aboriginal children from their villages and families supposedly for their own good where they would be placed in a concentration camp to be educated and trained to be civil. Three young girls are taken from their mother to be taken to the camp. After a while, the oldest daughter Molly decides to escape the camp with her sisters and trek over one-thousand miles to get back home to their mother and must dodge a skilled tracker who must take them back to the camp. What make this movie so heart-wrenching is the fact that these three children are willing to walk more than a thousand miles just to get back to their family.

The writer tends to let the audience become comfortable with the situation often watching this serene life, then they take us completely off-guard. The mother and grandmother can see the government issued cars coming down the road and instantly they begin fleeing, yet we have no idea what’s really happening until the terrible events unfold before our eyes. Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, and Laura Monaghan are powerful and very believable as the three young girls who trek for miles on end on foot to get back to their home. Everlyn Sampi gives a powerful and believable performance as Molly Craig managing to display striking realism and courage among her character.

It becomes almost exhausting watching the young girls walking among the sand and wastelands in the scorching heat of the Australian outback, but you root for them nonetheless. Kenneth Branagh gives a commanding role as A.O. Neville, known by the camp’s girls as “Mr. Devil” or Neville the Devil. He supposedly wants the girls to reform them into the English ways training them to speak English, practice his religion and sing old English folk songs. They take what’s called “half breeds” and slowly extract the Aboriginal culture and lifestyle almost as if they want to deplete them of their culture to inject their own form of what they consider the right culture and way of living, and it becomes increasingly grim as we watch that they’re futures aren’t as bright often ending up as either servants to farmers or workers at the concentration camp.

Their best tracker Moodoo (David Gulpilil) who is also an Aboriginal is desperate to get back to his village and practically begs Neville to let him leave, yet he continues to stall him by giving excuses to keep him in the camp. Writer Doris Pilkington, daughter of Molly creates a courageous and truly admirable dedication to her mother and aunts, and all other oppressed Aboriginals who were deprived of their lifestyles and culture in the early 1900’s who never had their story heard. One of the most heart breaking dramas all year, “Rabbit Proof Fence” portrays cultural oppression in its saddest, exposing true human nature in its depth.