Rabbit Proof Fence

Four years ago today I thought then blogger Ralph had written such a great movie review I copied it all. I subsequently saw the film and agreed completely with Ralph.

When a really great movie comes along, one that really grabs you, you think: “With all the dough the big shots in Hollywood spend, why can’t they make a movie like that.” Such is the case with Rabbit Proof Fence.

In what is very arguably the best directing job I’ve ever seen, Phillip Noyce took three young amateur actors and made a film that is starkly believable.

In 1931, three aboriginal children were taken from their home and transported to a boarding school to further the Eugenic policies of the Australian government. They aren’t in the school long when the oldest, Molly, takes her sister and her cousin and says, simply, “C’mon, we’re leaving.” So begins one of the most incredible (yet true) chase scenes on the big screen.

The young actors are incredibly good, and Noyce deserves the highest praise for getting this work out of them. The strength and determination the young women display is incredible. Kenneth Branaugh is actually so good I didn’t realize it was him until the movie was almost over.

The screenplay and cinematography are first rate and quite frankly this is a film everyone should see. I was left with two questions: 1972? Did it really take until 1972 before the Australian government abandoned this hideous policy? and Why can’t Hollywood make a movie about America’s experience with boarding schools?

5 thoughts on “Rabbit Proof Fence”

  1. I saw this only a few months ago and was stunned at what a good, moving, powerful movie this is. I still think about it from time to time. Good call, Ken.

  2. As I commented last time around, this is a terrific movie! I’ve seen it several times, in fact–it is that good. It really hasn’t been that long since Native American children right here in the the good old U.S.A. were enduring the same horrors of being ripped from family and home and sent to a place where they were reviled and punished for being who they were. I remember one movie about a girl in Canada making a similar escape. It was called, Where the Spirit Lives, with Michelle St. John. Of course, they may not be tearing children from their homes these days to send them to boarding schools, but for many, the treatment they are getting in the public schools still leaves a lot to be desired. I was flabbergasted by the level of prejudice against the Lakota students at the last school I worked in (NW Nebraska). All to many of them were labeled Special Ed or Learning Disabled when they were plenty smart, there were simply cultural differences at play.

  3. I too, enjoyed this movie from “the land down under”. An interesting movie some of you might enjoy is, The Education of Little Tree.

  4. Excellent movie with vivid cinematography that makes the emptiness of Australia’s wild lands feel present to the viewer. Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack is both inconspicuous and necessary.

    I saw it at a matinee in a quiet, nearly empty theater. If I were to watch it at home, I’d have to do the unimaginable and upgrade my 19″ analog set to something a little bigger. The big emptiness of Australia, like John Ford’s Monument Valley doesn’t really fit into a small screen.

    The parallels to Indian boarding schools in the US are interesting. I suspect that most people in this country and in Australia know little to nothing about what cruelty was committed out of (mostly) good-intentions.

    See the movie. It’s time well spent.

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