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? Written by
This film has quite a few remarkable features. First of all is its title which is rather unusual and immediately grabs one's interest. Next there is the fence itself which runs for thousands of miles to protect what few green plants there are in these desert regions from the voracious appetites of millions of wild rabbits. This fence plays an important role in this true story. Then there is the diector who not only scoured the continent to find three suitable aboriginal girls to play theleads but moulded these inexperienced beginners into the believable characters of Molly, Daisy and Gracie. The director Phillip Noyce has achieved remarkable success in creating three good little performers and should be given full credit for his difficult task.
For those who do not know the desert regions of Australia, it must be said that the "outback" country is harsh and cruel and can only be crossed by those with experience...those with a knowledge of the land. I think the camera makes it clear that the hostile environment is very much like a fence in itself...almost impossible to cross. All the more remarkable therefore that these girls accomplished what they set out to do. May be it was a reckless decision they made but thanks to the fence they found their way back to family and friends.
The film is largely a record of the long trek and the manner in which the children are able to survive. There are not many dramatic moments on their journey south. The children are mainly concerned with avoiding the blacktracker who is following them. The most unforgettable scene comes early in the film when the children are forcibly torn from their mothers. This is truly heart-wrenching stuff.
This thoughtful presentation is worth watching. It is part of Australian history.
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