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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Everlyn Sampi
Tianna Sansbury
Laura Monaghan
David Gulpilil
Kenneth Branagh
Tianna Sansbury.
Directors
Phillip Noyce.
Screenwriters
Christine Olsen.
Running Time
93 minutes

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Rabbit-Proof Fence
True story of how three Aboriginal girls, separated from their mother in 1930s Australia by the authorities, walked 1,500 miles home.


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Plot
Australia in the 1930s: a law exists stating that 'half-caste' children must be separated from their Aborigine families. But when three young girls are snatched by the government and taken to an institution 1,500 miles away from home, they escape and begin the long walk home.


Review
Phillip Noyce - best known for thrillers 'Dead Calm, Patriot Games' and 'The Bone Collector' - returns to his Australian roots for this captivating tale that could have ended up as a soppy Sunday-afternoon-on-Channel-Five film in the hands of another director.

Noyce, however, while obviously moved by the plight of these Aboriginal children, wisely decides not to wring every moment for maximum weepie effect. Instead he simply illustrates the true story with stunning locations and subtle performances that themselves are enough to break your heart by the end credits.

As the three girls make their way across the unrelenting countryside, using the wire fence that cross-sections Western Australia as a guide, the young actresses - all making movie debuts - relate the anguish, determination and fear of their characters with performances that would make any experienced, adult actor proud.

The real surprise, though, is Branagh. His character, A. O. Neville, the government's Chief Protector of the Aborigines, was the man responsible for taking 'half-caste' Aborginal children away from their parents to train as domestic servants and labourers (he believed that preventing children of mixed marriages from marrying Aborigines would eventually wipe out the Aboriginal race).

Neville could have been depicted as an evil caricature for easy effect, but instead Branagh gives him some humanity so that, while we hate his point of view and methods, he still comes across as a man (albeit a very misguided one) rather than a pantomime villain.

In the end, though, the achingly sad story really belongs to the girls, and especially to Everlyn Sampi, who plays Molly, the most determined of them all. And when Noyce shows us the real Molly and her sister, now both in their eighties and living on the land they were so desperate to return to, you realise the most inspirational movies don't have to have swirling music and Hollywood stars to bring a real tear to your eye.


Verdict
Low on schmaltz and with three terrific performances from the girls, this is a moving and fascinating look at a piece of recent history that most Australians would probably prefer to forget.


Reviewed by Jo Berry

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Rabbit-Proof Fence
Empire Star Rating

A touching and well made movie

I have no idea about this story nor how recent it was. Scary to think that a western nation could still have such policies as those portrrayed here. The movie is well recommended for its rather shocking story and its heart rending journey following 3 young children as they attempt to escape home. Special mention to the Peter Gabriel Soundtrack. Its incredible and worth seeing the movie for this soundtrack alone, with a recommended listen to a track called 'Cloudless'. Really a fine movi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Atomhammer at 13:42, 18 February 2011 | Report This Post


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