Rabbit Proof Fence (Australia, 2002)

Figure 1.--.

This Australian film is based on a true story about three Aborignee girls taken away from their mothers and raised in a boarding school. Three of them simply decided to walk across Australia to get home. Two make it. It is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit. The name comes from a fence built accross Australia to limit the spread of rabbits. The girls use it to guide themselves home. An Australian reader has provided HBC a review of the film.


The movie is based on the novel of the same name written by Molly Craig's daughter Doris Pilkington-Garimari.


The girls are as follows: Molly (Everlyn Sampi, (Daisy) Tianna Saansbury, and Gracie-Laura Monaghan). The white authoritie are: Mr Neville (Kenneth Branaugh), Constable Riggs (Jason Clarke). The Aborigenees are: Mavis the camp girl (Deborah Mailman), Molly's mum (Ningali Lawford), and Molly's Grandmother (Myann Lawford). The "Storm Boy" actor David Gulpilil played Moodoo, the black tracker and a stockman by trade.


The film is set in Western Australia about 1931.


Rabbit-Proof Fence is a sad tale about three half-caste aboriginal children. The girls are from the Jigalong mob as they are known and they are desert nomads. The Aboriginal Act in 1931 was used to control their lives in every way. Their plans for the childre, including these three girls, was very disturbing. I will call the half-caste girls Anglo-aboriginals. It sounds nicer and more respectful for my aboriginal countyfolk. A Mr A.O.Neville was the Western Ausralian Chief Protector of Aboriginals and as a result of the Aboriginal Act, the legal guardian of every Aboriginal in Western Australian state. In essence the legal respnsibility for the children ws taken from the parents. The three girls (Daisy, her cousin Gracie, and a girl named Molly) are forcibly taken from their native desert home and their aboriginal mothers.

The children and relocated some 1,500 miles away to a small village orphanige set up in a very sandy desert area. They are denied their true identity and are clothed in white clothing. The little boys at the canp are given number one hair cuts, severe college cuts, puddin basin cuts, or just shaved bald. The girls are forced to adopt a new life and strange totally alien world. Some boys were checked to see if the had fairer skin than other little boys.

A stormfront in on the horizon and the girls decide to temp fate and make their escape to the vast cruel unforgiving desert and landscape. Their survival skills are truely put to the test. Their will to survive will be severly tested. The three children try to make it to a rabbit-proof fence bought for hundreds of miles accross Western Australia to keep rabbits out. The girls hopedthat they could follow this very long fence home to the awaiting arms of their family.

Molly and the little one sees their other companion taken away via a car at a railway siding. The two contine their long and hazardous journey. They made it home to Molly's grandmother and mother. This was a lovely moment in the film. It took 9 long weeks to follow the rabbit proof fence.

Constable Riggs tried to retrieve th children, but was scared off by the mum. He was the villain who stole the children away in the first place.


Our Australian reader writes, "This was just a very sad film about three half-caste girls who wanted out of a enforced encampment and heaaded off on a long journey home to their parents land. Gracie was never heard of again and I felt a bit of sadness in my soul."

Australian Eugenics Program

Great care has to be taken after seeing a movie. Many film makers believe that they have no resonsibility to be guided by history, even when making a historical film. Thu in Brave Heart the battle of Stirling Bridge was fought without Stirling or any other bridge, without which an understanding of the battle is impossible. This film, howeve, seems to be very carefully based on the book and historical fact. The minor deviations occur to present a full assessment of th subject in the limited time frame.


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Created: July 28, 2003
Last updated: July 28, 2003