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Rabbit-Proof Fence

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Rabbit-Proof Fence

Starring: Everlyn Sampi, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Phillip Noyce
Rated: PG
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Laura Monaghan, Tianna Sansbury, David Gulpilil, Deborah Mailman, Jason Clarke, Ningali Lawford, Myarn Lawford

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Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Cinema is a provocative medium and, every now and then, a film comes along that not only entertains but elucidates important social issues as reflected through the microcosm of one human story. Australian director Phillip Noyce ("Patriot Games," "The Saint") probes a dark period in his country's history, set at a time when a 1,500-mile barbed-wire rabbit-proof fence was under construction. White men involved in this project often mated with Aboriginal women, resulting in half-caste children who were forcibly taken from their mothers in a cruel attempt to assimilate and, ultimately, breed "the coloured problem" out of existence. These children became known as The Stolen Generation...and this is a true story of three little girls who were forcibly taken from their mothers in 1931 in Jigalong, Western Australia. The heroine is 14 year-old Molly (Everlyn Sampi), whose silent resilience resonates and propels her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) into running from the internment camp, then following the fence through the harsh Outback with a fierce determination to find their way home. The reprehensibly misguided, racist villain is A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), Chief Protector of the Aborigines, who dispatches a tracker (David Gupilil) and several officers after them. Christopher Doyle's stark, bleached photography is awesome, as is Peter Gabriel's score, utilizing indigenous rhythms and instruments. But Christine Olsen's script lacks raw dramatic tension; the outcome is a foregone conclusion; and there's so little character development that the bereft mothers have more emotional impact than the trio of girls. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Rabbit-Proof Fence" is a realistic, compelling 8, a bold triumph of the human spirit against overwhelming odds.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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