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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.3%
Average: 13.59%
Pretty Bad: 10.68%
Total Crap: 5.83%

6 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Rabbit-Proof Fence
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by EricDSnider

"Real-life story so interesting, it needs no embellishment."
5 stars

I have often criticized fact-based films for seeming to believe that because they sprang from true stories, that relieved them of all responsibility to tell the stories in an interesting, engaging manner. Too often, filmmakers fall into that trap: It's true, so it must be interesting automatically.

"Rabbit-Proof Fence" is that rare film whose real-life basis is, in fact, so interesting that no embellishment is needed. No cinematic tricks or narrative alterations are necessary to make it into a riveting motion picture, because what happened is already so powerful that the facts speak for themselves.

It is set in 1931 in Australia, where the government has just begun a shameful policy that would last for 40 years. Under the law, "half-caste" children -- fathered by white men but born to aborigine mothers -- can be taken by the government and "civilized" in camps, where they are taught the skills necessary to become maids and servants.

Three children -- Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and their cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) -- are thus taken, forcibly and despite the sobs of their grief-stricken mother and aunt (Ningali Lawford). They are removed to a camp 1,200 miles to the south, where they live in barracks with other children similarly kidnapped, all of whom seem, by now, resigned to their fate. "Nobody here has any mothers," one of them says. "We do," is Molly's reply, unable to fathom, in her 14-year-old innocence, how such a thing could be said.

And so Molly, Daisy and Gracie sneak out of the camp and head for home -- on foot, following the 1,500-mile-long fence that keeps the rabbits from destroying the farmland on the western part of Australia. They are pursued by a tracker named Moodoo (David Gulpilil) whose record at recovering runaways is flawless but who has his own drama to contend with: His indentured servitude is over, but if he leaves his job at the camp, he will not be able to take his daughter with him.

The journey of the three girls is incredible to contemplate, but throughout it, a nagging question persists in the back of the viewer's mind: Even if they make it back to Jigalong, won't the government just come take them away again? The end of the story is joyous, tragic and overwhelming, all at once, and is accompanied by shots of the real Molly and Daisy, now well into their 80s and still living in Australia.

Director Phillip Noyce ("The Bone Collector," "Clear and Present Danger") has a brilliant piece of work on his hands here. The cinematography, by Christopher Doyle (an Australian who has done mostly Chinese films so far), is nothing less than beautiful, capturing the natural beauty of the Outback with breathtaking skill.

Few of the actors are even actors; most have never appeared on films before. Only Kenneth Branagh as the benighted government head who enforces the Aborigines Act is recognizable. The non-professional girls who play the central characters have a naturalness about them that probably could not have been faked. The give very simple performances that, in this very simple film, contribute to emotions that are anything but simple.

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originally posted: 07/05/03 20:00:18
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User Comments

4/14/16 Katrina Weiss Very determined kids, but a bittersweet ending. 4 stars
2/15/11 daveyt harrowing subject and well acted by the girls, 1500 mile journey made to look far too easy 3 stars
7/22/10 amartha i love this movie...emotional 5 stars
7/21/08 BOOFA This movie is horrible. The sense of distance isn't shown well and it's just another Bmovie 2 stars
3/19/08 shit head it was mad 4 stars
11/17/06 kara very good but i found molly didnt express the way she should of 4 stars
10/17/06 jose bererro awsome. to cool 4 school 5 stars
10/08/06 SL too plain, and authenticity of the Stolen Generation is questionable.. 2 stars
9/12/06 JR Sad that so few people will love and understand this movie. 5 stars
11/30/05 S A McKinley heartwrending 5 stars
11/08/05 none of your bisness stooooooooopid 1 stars
11/02/05 summer a quality film!!! worth a 10 star rating!! 5 stars
10/27/05 Lin Great and worth watching it 5 stars
10/25/05 Jo A good movie and definately worth watching! 4 stars
10/24/05 shandelle good 4 stars
8/27/05 ES Holy boring, why do critics rave about should obviously poor movies 1 stars
6/13/05 none great movie 5 stars
5/24/05 Linda Sharpe Very moving, similar to what happened to the mixed race children in Zimbabwe. 4 stars
3/10/05 Steph Awe-inspiring drama. Its so beautiful 5 stars
10/17/04 Charlene Javier Powerful doesn't begin to describe this. 5 stars
10/06/04 john bale No doubt well meaning in its way but a serious distortion of the truth. 3 stars
8/11/04 psycho dwarf avoids treacly pitfalls of the "kids with a cause" genre. 4 stars
4/18/04 anon Loved it 5 stars
4/02/04 Kaytie Chasm Its Fukn good aye ! itz really kool 1 stars
3/18/04 damien dylanson the movie sucked 1 stars
3/16/04 Dan Mackay Nothing over the top 3 stars
1/24/04 VW AMAZING, loved it! 5 stars
11/27/03 Sarah Packard It wasn't bad. Eye opener to what life was like for the half castes. Sad to watch 3 stars
11/10/03 Maysa Ashhab The best drama I have seen for years 5 stars
11/03/03 tehla levin it is excellant i loveit 5 stars
9/19/03 Jinnvisible Fine Film , Kenneth Branagh suits his rascist role, I wish he wasn`t in it, piss off Ken!! 4 stars
8/30/03 Kelly Mellinger touching and fascinating-not the best acting but good from kids who weren't actors to start 4 stars
7/20/03 matthew green filmmaking that stays out of the way, letting the amazing story tell itself. 5 stars
5/11/03 y2mckay Opens eyes to a dark chapter in Aussie history, but sometimes feels empty as the outback 4 stars
5/02/03 Diana Collado Great performance by the girls 4 stars
4/17/03 skye chapman could've and should've been so much more engaging 3 stars
4/02/03 Native American These are our stories. White people must see the RAPE of people and culture they commited 5 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones Good film - Everlyn Sampi and co very good. Disturbing. 4 stars
12/18/02 Heather Great cinematography and Peter Gabriel soundtrack, a must see 5 stars
11/24/02 Colin Selby A MUST SEE MOVIE 5 stars
11/21/02 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng Excellent movie. People who wish to see something different should really watch this one. 5 stars
10/23/02 Kelly Excellent 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock A good try but ultimately a poor film. 3 stars
8/14/02 sam not bad and worth seeing if you want something new 4 stars
5/25/02 Hollie although it acked quiality acting and screen play, the overall power of it did some justice 4 stars
5/18/02 Amber Jarman Very good the best movie great acting involved 5 stars
5/17/02 viking Unforgetable !!! 5 stars
5/10/02 Catherine Cho really really really really cool 5 stars
4/28/02 Amy An excellent and most carefully detailed account of the stolen generation, must see!! 5 stars
4/27/02 Ella Hatten Its ok 3 stars
4/14/02 Tom Morgan Biased, I agree with the review, purely used to pull heartstrings, 2 stars
4/13/02 Pam Quite well done 4 stars
4/04/02 THIS MOVIE SUCKS R P F IS GAY 1 stars
4/03/02 Your dad Absolutley Brilliant! two very enthusiastic thumbs up 5 stars
3/29/02 Holly Salter Too timid. Probably because the director is afraid of upsetting Australian racists. 3 stars
3/24/02 your mum sucked ass 1 stars
3/21/02 Sartaj The movie is a profound experience. 5 stars
3/14/02 David An excellent Australian film - especially so, given the current climate. 4 stars
3/13/02 Matthew shit, biased 2 stars
3/10/02 nicholas mills this film is heart warming and unforgettable 5 stars
3/04/02 Jeff Walters Absolutely terrific. 5 stars
3/03/02 Lucas See it. Simple amazing story, well told! 5 stars
2/28/02 Vaughan Subtle and clever Sublime and cutting to whites. 4 stars
2/27/02 carp shit 2 stars
2/25/02 ^Elendil^ This is an amazing story. 5 stars
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  29-Nov-2002 (PG)



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