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The Rabbit Proof Fence is a riveting and hard-hitting Australian drama that tells the story of three young Aboriginal girls, Molly, her sister Daisy, and their cousin Gracie. The film follows their perilous journey through the harsh and relentless Australian outback towards their hometown of Jigalong, where they were forcibly removed from their family as a result of government assimilation policies put into place at the time.
The film is visually beautiful, capturing so brilliantly the Australian landscape accompanied by a powerful score featuring the sounds of native animals, birdsong, rain and wind that truly gives the viewer a sense of the nature of the Australian outback. In viewing the film’s exhibition of the incredible and utterly convincing perfomances by the three young leads, it’s hard to believe that these actresses had never acted before. But above all, the film does a most incredible job at highlighting the pain and trauma of such a dark chapter in Australia’s history – which is the creation of the Stolen Generation and how the Australian goverment failed its native peoples.
Growing up as a child of colour, with the facial features I possess, my peers would often mock the fact that they thought I looked like an Indigenous person. It always upset me that being compared to an Indigenous person was seen as such an insult. This type of mockery revealed to me just a fraction of the racial discrimination Indigenous Australians have been experiencing for centuries in this country; and viewing the Rabbit Proof Fence for the first time as a child further emphasised this reality to me. The film evoked such powerful emotions within me, like no other film had before. From bringing up the memories of my peers mocking Aboriginal people, to seeing the barbaric treatment of the Aboriginal children in the film, it filled mind with sadness. Personally, the scene that affected me the most was the removal scene, in which the young Aboriginal girls were brutally ripped from their mother’s arms while their mother screamed and pleaded to let them stay. An aspect of the film I also particularly appreciated is the inclusion of the footage of the “real-life” Molly and Daisy at the end, shown recounting their experiences, emphasising that the story is not removed from reality. A voiceover of Molly speaking in her native language in the opening sequence is a subtle yet powerful part of film, which also emphasises that the trauma and pain is far from fictional.
All in all, I think it’s fair to say that The Rabbit Proof Fence is a powerful and moving film that doesn’t shy away from portaying the harsh reality of the mistreatment of the Indigenous people of Australia, which is my favourite part about the film. It serves as an important reminder that these cruel and horrific acts of removal leaves a legacy of trauma and suffering that affects the Indigenous people and communities of this country to this day.
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