|Directed by||Phillip Noyce|
|Produced by||Phillip Noyce|
|Screenplay by||Christine Olsen|
|Based on|| Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence |
by Doris Pilkington Garimara
|Starring|| Everlyn Sampi |
|Music by||Peter Gabriel|
|Edited by|| Veronika Jenet |
|Distributed by||Becker Entertainment|
|Languages|| Walmajarri |
|Box office||USD$16.2 million|
Rabbit-Proof Fence is a 2002 Australian drama film directed and produced by Phillip Noyce based on the 1996 book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. It is loosely based on a true story concerning the author's mother Molly, as well as two other Aboriginal girls, Daisy Kadibil and Gracie, who escape from the Moore River Native Settlement, north of Perth, Western Australia, to return to their Aboriginal families, after being placed there in 1931. The film follows the Aboriginal girls as they walk for nine weeks along 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of the Australian rabbit-proof fence to return to their community at Jigalong, while being pursued by white law enforcement authorities and an Aboriginal tracker. The film illustrates the official child removal policy that existed in Australia between approximately 1905 and 1967. Its victims now are called the "Stolen Generations".
The soundtrack to the film, called Long Walk Home: Music from the Rabbit-Proof Fence , is by Peter Gabriel. British producer Jeremy Thomas, who has a long connection with Australia, was executive producer of the film, selling it internationally through his sales arm, HanWay Films. In 2005 the British Film Institute included it in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
In 1931, two sisters –14-year-old Molly and 8-year-old Daisy –and their 10-year-old cousin Gracie live in the Western Australian town of Jigalong. The town lies along the northern part of one of the fences making up Australia's rabbit-proof fence (called Number One Fence), which runs for over one thousand miles.
Over a thousand miles away in Perth, the official Protector of Western Australian Aborigines, A. O. Neville (called Mr. Devil by them), signs an order to relocate the three girls to the Moore River Native Settlement. The children are referred to by Neville as "half-castes", because they have one white and one Aboriginal parent. Neville's reasoning is portrayed as: the Aboriginal people of Australia are a danger to themselves, and the "half-castes" must be bred out of existence. He plans to place the girls in a camp where they, along with all half-castes of that age range, both boys and girls, will grow up. They will then presumably become labourers and servants to white families, regarded as a "good" situation for them in life. Eventually if they marry, it will be to white people and thus the Aboriginal "blood" will diminish. As such, the three girls are forcibly taken from their families at Jigalong by a local constable, Riggs, and sent to the camp at the Moore River Native Settlement, in the south west, about 90 km (55 miles) north of Perth.
Neville spreads word that Gracie's mother is waiting for her in the town of Wiluna. The information finds its way to an Aboriginal traveller who "helps" the girls. He tells Gracie about her mother and says they can get to Wiluna by train, causing her to leave the other two girls in an attempt to catch a train to Wiluna. Molly and Daisy soon walk after her and find her at a train station. They are not reunited, however, as Riggs appears and Gracie is recaptured. The betrayal is revealed by Riggs, who tells the man he will receive a shilling for his help. Knowing they are powerless to aid her, Molly and Daisy continue their journey. In the end, after a nine-week journey through the harsh Australian outback, having walked the 2,400 km (1,500 miles) route along the fence, the two sisters return home and go into hiding in the desert with their mother and grandmother. Meanwhile, Neville realizes he can no longer afford the search for Molly and Daisy and decides to end it.
The film's epilogue shows recent footage of Molly and Daisy. Molly explains that Gracie has died and she never returned to Jigalong. Molly also tells us of her own two daughters; she and they were taken from Jigalong back to Moore river. She managed to escape with one daughter, Annabelle, and once again, she walked the length of the fence back home. However, when Annabelle was three years old, she was taken away once more, and Molly never saw her again. In closing, Molly says that she and Daisy "... are never going back to that place".
The film is adapted from the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence , by Doris Pilkington Garimara, which is the second book of her trilogy documenting her family's stories.The other two books are Caprice: A Stockman’s Daughter (1991) and Under the Wintamarra Tree (2002)
The film stirred controversy in Australia relating to the government's historical policy of removing part-Aboriginal children, who became known as the Stolen Generations, from Aboriginal communities and placing them in state institutions.Eric Abetz, a government official, announced the publishing of a leaflet criticising the film's portrayal of the treatment of indigenous Australians, and demanded an apology from the filmmakers. Director Phillip Noyce suggested instead that the government apologize to the indigenous people affected by the removal policy.
Conservative commentators such as Andrew Bolt also attacked the historical accuracy of the film. Bolt criticized the numerous disparities between the film and Pilkington Garimara's novel, a fact that angered Pilkington Garimara, who said that Bolt had misquoted her.The academic Robert Manne in turn accused Bolt of historical denialism, and scriptwriter Christine Olsen wrote a detailed response to Bolt's claims.
Olsen attributed the angry response among some of the public to the fact that it was based in events that were "demonstrably true" and well-documented.However, the filmmaker said that the film was meant primarily as a drama rather than a political or historical statement. Noyce stated, "If drama comes from conflict, there's no greater conflict in Australian history than the conflict between indigenous Australians and white settlers."
The historian Keith Windschuttle also disputed the film's depiction of events, stating in his work The Fabrication of Aboriginal History that Molly and the two other girls had been removed for their own welfare, and that the two older girls had been sexually involved with white men. Noyce and Olsen rejected these criticisms, stating that Windschuttle's research was incomplete.Pilkington Garimara denied Windschuttle's claims of sexual activity between her mother and local whites, stating that the claims were a distortion of history.
The film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 87% based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's consensus states, "Visually beautiful and well-acted, Rabbit-Proof Fence tells a compelling true-life story."On Metacritic the film has a score of 80 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
David Stratton of SBS awarded the film four stars out of five, commenting that Rabbit-Proof Fence is a "bold and timely film about the stolen generations."
Rabbit-Proof Fence grossed $16.2 million worldwide, including $3.8 million in Australia.
Evelyn Lee Marie Sampi, known professionally as Everlyn Sampi, is an Australian actress. She is of Bardi Australian Aboriginal and Scottish descent. She starred in the 2002 film Rabbit-Proof Fence, and won the 4th Annual Lexus Inside Film Awards for Best Actress on 6 November 2002.
Deborah Jane Mailman, is an Australian television and film actress, and singer. Mailman played the character Kelly Lewis on the Australian television series, The Secret Life of Us, and Cherie Butterfield in the Australian comedy/drama series Offspring. She portrayed the role of Lorraine in the Australian TV series Redfern Now, and Aunt Linda in the television program Cleverman. Mailman is currently the main character in the Australian TV series Total Control.
David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM is a Yolngu traditional dancer and actor.
Hyperdescent is the practice of classifying a child of mixed race ancestry in the more socially dominant of the parents' races.
Phillip Noyce is an Australian director, producer, and screenwriter of film and television. Since 1977, he has directed over 19 feature films in various genres, including historical drama, thrillers, and action films. He has also directed the Jack Ryan adaptations Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994) and the 2014 adaptation of Lois Lowry's The Giver.
A rabbit-proof fence or pest-exclusion fence crosses the state of Western Australia from north to south.
The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia, formerly known as the Rabbit Proof Fence, the State Vermin Fence, and the Emu Fence, is a pest-exclusion fence constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits and other agricultural pests, from the east, out of Western Australian pastoral areas.
The 1st San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards, honoring the best in film for 2002, were given on 17 December 2002.
The 74th National Board of Review Awards, honoring the best in filmmaking in 2002, were announced on 4 December 2002 and given on 14 January 2003.
Doris Pilkington Garimara, also known as Doris Pilkington, was an Australian author. She wrote Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence (1996), a story of three Aboriginal girls, among them Pilkington's mother, Molly Craig, who escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia and travelled 2,414 km for nine weeks to return to their family.
The Martu (Mardu) are a grouping of several Aboriginal Australian peoples in the Western Desert cultural bloc.
Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is an Australian book by Doris Pilkington, published in 1996. Based on a true story, the book is a personal account of an Indigenous Australian family's experiences as members of the Stolen Generation – the forced removal of mixed-race children from their families during the early 20th century. It tells the story of three young Aboriginal girls: Molly, Daisy, and Gracie, who are forcibly removed from their families at Jigalong and taken to Moore River, but escape from the government settlement in 1931, and then trek over 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) home by following the rabbit-proof fence, a massive pest-exclusion fence which crossed Western Australia from north to south.
Jigalong is a remote Aboriginal community of approximately 333 people located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
David Elfick is an Australian film and television writer, director, producer and occasional actor. He is known for his association with writer-director Phillip Noyce with whom he has collaborated on films including Newsfront (1978) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002).
John Winter is an Australian film and television writer, director and producer. He is best known for producing Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doing Time for Patsy Cline and Paperback Hero. His directorial debut Black & White & Sex premiered at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival with its international premiere at the 41st International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film won the 'Best Experimental' at the 2012 ATOM Awards.
Balfour Downs Station is a pastoral lease and cattle station located approximately 132 kilometres (82 mi) northeast of Newman, 88 kilometres (55 mi) east of Roy Hill and 108 kilometres (67 mi) southeast of Nullagine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. At 6,395 square kilometres (2,469 sq mi), it is among the largest cattle stations in Australia.
Molly Kelly was an Australian Martu Aboriginal woman, known for her escape from the Moore River Native Settlement in 1931 and subsequent 1,600 km (990 mi) trek home with her half-sister Daisy Kadibil and cousin Gracie. She was a member of the Stolen Generations, which were part-white, part-Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by the Australian government. Her story was the inspiration for the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, and the film Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Ningali Josie Lawford was an Australian actress known for her roles in the films Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), Bran Nue Dae (2009), and Last Cab to Darwin (2015), for which she was nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Daisy Kadibil was an Aboriginal Australian woman whose experiences shaped the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence and subsequent film Rabbit-Proof Fence. She was a member of the Stolen Generations, which were Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by the Australian government.
Natasha Wanganeen is an Aboriginal Australian actress. She is known for her starring role in the 2002 feature film Rabbit Proof Fence, aged 15.
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