Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rabbit-Proof Fence

2002, Australia, directed by Phillip Noyce

A deceptively simple account of three half-caste Aboriginal girls who run away from an institution of 'training' after they are forcibly removed from their mothers in the early 1930s, Rabbit-Proof Fence is a powerful indictment of white Australian policies of assimilation and 're-education'. The young girls escape from the very low-security Moore River home, and embark on a trek of more than 1,200 miles north to their home territory of Jigalong, navigating their way by following one of the rabbit-proof fences that were erected to protect farmland - and which were later rendered moot by the introduction of myxomatosis. In sharp contrast to the mythology of colonial Australia, the bush here is rarely threatening, despite the difficulties of sustenance occasionally encountered. Phillip Noyce's very mobile camera gives the tale a real urgency at times - the attempted escape from the policeman who captures the girls, and the narration of the girls' flight from Moore River are especially gripping. The conclusion, using a Schindler's List device, though with more power here, is exceptionally moving, a fitting indictment of misguided policies without a trace of hectoring.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States