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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:

What if the government kidnapped your daughter? 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, 27 November 2002

Gross USA:

$6,165,429
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

Casting Director Christine King joined Director Phillip Noyce in an Australia-wide search to cast the three young Aboriginal children: Molly, Gracie, and Daisy. Together, with about eight sub-Casting Directors, including teachers, parents, and community leaders, all armed with handycams, they conducted at least one thousand two hundred interviews looking for what Noyce described as "three tiny needles in a huge haystack." See more »

Goofs

When Moodoo is first seen riding north along the Rabbit-Proof Fence to meet a police constable he's on the west of the fence. Shortly before the actual meeting he's on the east side of the fence. See more »

Quotes

[Molly, Daisy and Gracie wake up their first morning at Moore River]
Nina, Dormitory Boss: [to them] What's your name? Where you from?
[they don't answer]
Nina, Dormitory Boss: You'll get used to it.
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

Edited from A Steam Train Passes (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

The Rabbit-Proof Fence
Vocals by Myarn Lawford, Ningali Lawford', Sheryl Carter
Berimbau: David Rhodes
Drone: Quantec
Other [Kaliuka]: Dmitri Pokrovsky
See more »

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User Reviews

Phil Noyce gives us film poetry, not propaganda
29 April 2002 | by Philby-3See all my reviews

MILD SPOILER AHEAD: This is the 200th film I have reviewed for IMDb and one of the most satisfying. Phil Noyce has produced here a piece of cinematic poetry when it could have easily been tendentious agit-prop. The story from the 1930s of three half-cast aboriginal girls walking 2000 km of Western Australia to escape the clutches of white assimilationists is seen through their frame of reference. We see the harsh beauty of the countryside as they do, not an alien landscape but as their back yard. They have all been brought up in the desert and together know how to survive, a point eventually realised by their pursuers, who then lie in wait at their destination.

The three young girls, Mollie, Grace and Daisy, are stunningly portrayed by Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sainsbury and Laura Monaghan. Molly, at 14 the oldest, has the largest part but the three of them function together as if they really were sisters. Their mother and grandmother , played by Ningali Lawson and Myana Lawson (daughter and mother in real life) are equally convincing, as is David Gulpilil as the relentless black tracker.

The most difficult role in the film is that of A O Neville (Mr Devil, as the aborigines called him), Chief Protector of Aborigines, a sincere and energetic advocate of the monstrous policy which resulted in a generation or more of half-cast children being removed from their families. It would be easy to pillory Neville as a monster, but Kenneth Branagh manages to give us a rounded picture of a man who was not inhumane, who tried to advance what he saw as the welfare of his charges despite lack of money and enormous logistical problems (not to mention an unco-operative police force). Had it not been for these obstacles the aboriginality of Australia would probably have been reduced to a few scattered reserves in the deserts run as freak shows for tourists.

Some critics of the armchair lefty variety have criticised the movie as not being political enough, and its true there's plenty of room for righteous (or leftist) indignation on the topic of the stolen generation, but I think a more overt political message would have diminished it. Imagine say, if John Pilger had made this film. Instead we have a near-classic. Never I have I seen the visual power of the Australian landscape better depicted, and seldom have I seen a better celebration of the human spirit. And this is a true story. The real Molly and Daisy take their bows at the end. Things didn't quite work out for them the way they might have, but they survived and stayed with their people.


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