Rabbit Proof Fence

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Rabbit Proof Fence (2002) “Three little girls. Snatched from their mothers’ arms. Spirited 1,500 miles away. Denied their very identity. Forced to adapt to a strange new world. They will attempt the impossible. A daring escape. A run from the authorities. An epic journey across an unforgiving landscape that will test their very will to survive. Their only resources, tenacity, determination, ingenuity and each other. Their one hope, find the rabbit-proof fence that might just guide them home. A true story. ” (IMDB, Anonymous Review) This movie takes place in Australia in the 1940s and 1950s. The movie is based on a true story that details how white people took Aborigines from their families and attempted to breed them into white people. The movie details the journey of three girls violently taken from their mothers and taken miles away to camps where they would be forced to conform to the white population. Race and white supremacy are prevalent themes, as well as the struggle for power. Through Rabbit Proof Fence one is able to see the first hand negative effects of social stratification and cultural imperialism in a society. Moreover, social stratification is the ranking of people in a society. In Rabbit Proof Fence one’s race plays a key role in their ranking. Race is a convenient cultural construction based on one’s skin type rather than phonotypical features. In the movie the whites are the highest ranking and the blacks are the lowest. Half-castes are considered a “third unwanted race”. I am someone who has reaped the benefits of taking over another’s culture as a stereotype. Until recently, I thought all Australians were tan and blonde. It never occurred to me that there were native people there first. Even watching this movie I was surprised to learn that there were still hunter and gathering societies in that country in the nineteenth century. “See that bird? That’s the spirit bird. He will always look after you. ” (Maud to Molly) The film puts a human face on the ‘Stolen Generation’, a phenomenon which characterized relations between the government and Aborigines in Australia for much of the 20th century. The girls were taken away to be trained as domestic servants at the Moore River Native Settlement, north of Perth. This was consistent with official government assimilations’ policy of the time decreeing that ‘half caste’ children should be taken from their kin and their land, in order to be ‘given a chance’ , in other words, ‘made white. ’ Focusing on the escape of the three girls from Moore River in the 1930s, the film highlights the despair experienced by mothers whose children were taken by the government, and the terror and confusion of those children, snatched from familiar surroundings and forced to adapt to European ways. Led by fourteen year old Molly, the girls defy all odds to travel 1600 kilometers through unfamiliar territory to return to their land, their homes and families in North-Western Australia, with the authorities chasing them all the way.

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