7.5/10
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251 user 76 critic

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a journey across the Outback.

Director:

Writers:

(book) (as Doris Pilkington Garimara), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 23 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Laura Monaghan ...
Gracie Fields
...
Ningali Lawford ...
Maud - Molly's Mother
Myarn Lawford ...
Molly's Grandmother
...
Mavis
...
Constable Riggs
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Natasha Wanganeen ...
Nina, Dormitory Boss
Garry McDonald ...
Mr. Neal at Moore River
...
Police Inspector
Lorna Lesley ...
Miss Thomas (as Lorna Leslie)
Celine O'Leary ...
Miss Jessop
Kate Roberts ...
Matron at Moore River
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Storyline

Western Australia, 1931. Government policy includes taking half-caste 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 14, 10, and 8) arrive at their Gulag and promptly escape, under Molly's lead. For 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:

A daring escape. An epic journey. The true story of 3 girls who walked 1500 miles to find their way home. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for emotional thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

31 January 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Long Walk Home  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£221,758 (UK) (10 November 2002)

Gross:

$6,165,429 (USA) (27 April 2003)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The world premiere of this film was held in an outdoor screening at Jigalong, the outback community where the girls were taken from, and where their families still live. See more »

Goofs

The girl's shoes and clothes were far too clean and intact for a thousand mile walk. The girl's hair wasn't dirty enough and didn't grow during the journey back to their home. The girls looked like they went on a 10 mile hike with very few food sources, lack of water, lack of hygiene, and lack of injuries to accurately depict authenticity. See more »

Quotes

Daisy Kadibill: [after Molly lifts Daisy up to a bird's nest to gather some eggs to eat] Three of them!
Molly Craig: Perfect. One for you, one for me, and one for both of us!
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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

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 2002 (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)
(1851) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Sung by the children and staff at the Moore River Settlement
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User Reviews

A Scathing Attack on Racism
2 December 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See 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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