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Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

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In 1931, three half-white, half-Aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their houses to be trained as domestic staff, and set off on a journey across the Outback.

Director:

Phillip Noyce

Writers:

Doris Pilkington (book) (as Doris Pilkington Garimara), Christine Olsen (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 23 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Everlyn Sampi ... Molly Craig
Tianna Sansbury ... Daisy Craig Kadibill
Laura Monaghan Laura Monaghan ... Gracie Fields
David Gulpilil ... Moodoo
Ningali Lawford Ningali Lawford ... Maud - Molly's Mother
Myarn Lawford Myarn Lawford ... Molly's Grandmother
Deborah Mailman ... Mavis
Jason Clarke ... Constable Riggs
Kenneth Branagh ... A.O. Neville
Natasha Wanganeen Natasha Wanganeen ... Nina, Dormitory Boss
Garry McDonald Garry McDonald ... Mr. Neal at Moore River
Roy Billing ... Police Inspector
Lorna Lesley Lorna Lesley ... Miss Thomas (as Lorna Leslie)
Celine O'Leary Celine O'Leary ... Miss Jessop
Kate Roberts Kate Roberts ... Matron at Moore River
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Storyline

Western Australia, 1931. Government policy includes taking half-white, half-Aboriginal 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 fourteen, ten, and eight) arrive at their Gulag and promptly escape, under Molly's lead. For several 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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

1500 miles is a long way home See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for emotional thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Hanway Films

Country:

Australia

Language:

Aboriginal | English

Release Date:

31 January 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Long Walk Home See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$88,352, 1 December 2002

Gross USA:

$6,199,600

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,217,411
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director of Photography Christopher Doyle had had a long-term association with Director Phillip Noyce, but this movie was the first time they had worked together. Noyce believed hiring Chris would give the movie an edge. He said: "Chris loves to hand-hold the camera, and is sort of like a human crane. But more interestingly, he has quite anarchic attitudes to how films should be made." See more »

Goofs

During the opening scenes of the movie the lizard that they have been hunting is killed and when they are carrying it back to their home the lizard is first carried one way then switches with the change in camera angle and then changes back. See more »

Quotes

Gracie Fields: [in native language to her cousins] New clothes!
Miss Jessop: [in English] This is your new home. We don't use that jabber here. You speak English.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The painting songs sung by the Walpiri, Amatjere and Wangajunka women were not sacred songs, but were songs able to be performed in public. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Following the Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

All Things Bright and Beautiful
(1848) (uncredited)
Music by William H. Monk
Lyrics by Cecil F. Alexander, from "Hymns for Little Children" (1838)
Sung offscreen in church at the Moore River Settlement
See more »

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User Reviews

A Scathing Attack on Racism
2 December 2002 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

"And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep" -- Robert Frost

Set in Western Australia in 1931, Rabbit-Proof Fence, a new film by Australian director Philip Noyce (The Quiet American, Clear and Present Danger), is a scathing attack on the Australian government's "eugenics" policy toward Aboriginal half-castes. Continuing policies begun by the British, the white government in Australia for six decades forcibly removed all half-caste Aborigines from their families "for their own good" and sent them to government camps where they were raised as servants, converted to Christianity, and eventually assimilated into white society.

Based on the 1996 book, "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington Garimara (Molly Kelly's daughter), the film tells the story of three Aboriginal girls, 14-year old Molly Kelley, her 8-year old sister Daisy, and their 10-year old cousin Gracie. It shows their escape from confinement in a government camp for half-castes and their return home across the vast and lonely Australian Outback. It is a simple story of indomitable courage, told with honest emotion. Abducted by police in 1931 from their families at Jigalong, an Aboriginal settlement on the edge of the Little Sandy Desert in northwest Australia, the three girls are sent to the Moore River Native Settlement near Perth. Here the children must endure wretched conditions. Herded into mass dormitories, they are not allowed to speak their native language, are subject to strict discipline, and, if they break the rules, are put into solitary confinement for 14 days.

Followed by the Aborigine tracker, Moodoo (a great performance from David Gulpilil), the girls make their escape. Using a "rabbit-proof fence" as a navigation tool, they walk 1500 miles across the parched Outback to return to Jigalong. The rabbit-proof fence was a strip of barbed-wire netting that cut across half of the continent and was designed to protect farmer's crops by keeping the rabbits away. The girls walked for months on end often without food or drink, not always sure of the direction they are going, using all their ingenuity and intelligence along the way just to survive. The stunning Australian landscape is magnificently photographed by Christopher Doyle, and a haunting score by Peter Gabriel translates natural sounds of birds, animals, wind and rain into music that adds a mystical feeling to the journey.

The performances by amateur actors Evelyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, and Laura Monaghan (who had never seen a film before let alone acted in one) are authentic and heartbreakingly affecting. Though the white officials and police are characterized as smug and unfeeling, they are more like bureaucrats carrying out official policies than true villains. Kenneth Branagh gives a strong but restrained performance as Mr. Neville, the minister in charge of half-castes. Rabbit-Proof Fence is an honest film that avoids sentimentality and lets the courage and natural wisdom of the girls shine through. This is one of the best films I've seen this year and has struck a responsive chord in Australia and all over the world. Hopefully, it will become a vehicle for reconciliation, so that the shame of the "Stolen Generation" can at last be held to account.


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