Plot summary for Rabbit-Proof Fence
Western Australia, 1931. Government policy includes taking half-caste children from their Aboriginal mothers and sending them a thousand miles away to what amounts to indentured servitude, "to save them from themselves." Molly, Daisy, and Grace (two sisters and a cousin who are 14, 10, and 8) arrive at their Gulag and promptly escape, under Molly's lead. For days they walk north, following a fence that keeps rabbits from settlements, eluding a native tracker and the regional constabulary. Their pursuers take orders from the government's "chief protector of Aborigines," A.O. Neville, blinded by Anglo-Christian certainty, evolutionary world view and conventional wisdom. Can the girls survive?
Three little girls. Snatched from their mothers' arms. Spirited 1,500 miles away. Denied their very identity. Forced to adapt to a strange new world. They will attempt the impossible. A daring escape. A run from the authorities. An epic journey across an unforgiving landscape that will test their very will to survive. Their only resources, tenacity, determination, ingenuity and each other. Their one hope, find the rabbit-proof fence that might just guide them home. A true story.
It's tough to find a less-than-glowing review. Here's one that gives Rabbit-Proof Fence a B+ rather than an A:
Everlyn Sampi does a very good job giving depth to Molly. Noyce elicits a performance that is punctuated with the young actresses fiercely expressive eyes. Little Tianna Samsbury is adorable as the youngest, Daisy. Kenneth Branagh lends his internationally known name and his fine acting to make A.O. Neville a well-meaning but despicable (to us liberals) man who personifies the racist attitudes of the time. David Gulpilil, the veteran Aborigine character actor, is underutilized as the tracker.
The inspirational story, the plucky determination of the kids, the glimpse into another country sordid, racist past, and good production values make up for the minor shortcomings of Rabbit-Proof Fence.
But there's still no justification for what happened. About the only excuse for kidnapping is removing children from imminent harm. "Protecting" them from the racist system the white Australians foisted on them doesn't qualify.
The screenwriter could've invented a few perils to ratchet up the excitement level. But I suppose it wouldn't have been true to life then. Oh, well.
Rob's rating: 8.5 of 10. Check it out.
Comment: For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.
The story's gripping beginning: