RABBIT PROOF FENCE - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: ***
Comments: Fascinating but often slow tale of an incredible journey of courage and determination against impossible odds.
Directed By: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, David Gulpilil, Kenneth Branaugh
Written By: Christine Olsen
Rated: PG - for emotional thematic material
Running Time: 1 hr : 34 min
Scripture References: Isaiah 50:7, James 1:6, Numbers 13:31-14:24

I suppose that every country or every culture has had events or moments in history of which they are not proud. Rabbit-Proof Fence sheds light on an Australian policy regarding its Aboriginal children that is shocking in the extreme. Especially when we come to realize that the practice continued long into the 20th century.

Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the true story of sisters Molly (14) and Daisy (8) who, along with their cousin Gracie (10), were forcibly removed from their mother and their home of Jigalong in Western Australia. They were transported some 1500 miles away in order to be "assimilated" into a white European culture. The only reason: they were light-skinned or "half-castes."

Until 1970, it was governmental policy to take the children of mixed race relations (presumably fathered by white construction workers who passed through the area) and try to merge them into white society by keeping them from having any contact with their families or communities. They were raised according to European customs and trained to perform menial tasks. Furthermore, by forcing light-skinned blacks to only mate with whites or other light-skinned blacks, it was believed that the "blackness" could be bred out of them in just a few generations.

Any policy that is based upon racial prejudice is born of ignorance, no matter what rationalization might be used by those practicing it. God sets the standard by which we should live and He is no respecter of persons.

A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branaugh, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), the region's Chief Protector of Aboriginal Affairs, was responsible for carrying out this odious policy in the 1930s and did so with the blind conviction that he was acting in the aborigine's best interests. The children taken under this policy have become known as "The Stolen Generations."

Molly, Daisy and Gracie escape from the Moore River Settlement where they've been placed and decide to walk the 1500 miles home. By following the fenced barrier that was constructed to protect Australian crops from a rabbit infestation, the girls are able to stay on course for the nine-week journey that lay ahead.

Meanwhile, the government, trying to find them and bring them back to Moore River, employs the aid of Moogoo (David Gulpilil, Crocodile Dundee), an aboriginal tracker whose heart is clearly not in his assigned task.

The film is based upon the novel written by Molly's own daughter, Doris Pilkington. While the screenplay by Christine Olsen is void of the usual Hollywood twists and turns, it effectively instructs us as to a little known piece of world history while showing us the courage and determination of a little girl named Molly.

As we follow the girls' trek across the immense Australian outback, one look at Molly shows us the outcome of their seemingly impossible journey. She refuses to consider failure. It is obvious that she is resolute in her will to complete the crossing and return home. We can see it in her face.

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed (disappointed). Isaiah 50:7 (KJV)

Setting one's face like a flint simply means to believe without wavering. Just because something may be hard does not make it impossible. Just because God has promised us something does not mean that there won't be obstacles in our way.

Moses led millions through the wilderness to their promised land and yet was never able to lead them into that land. They did not set their faces like a flint as Molly did. Instead they continually complained, desiring to go back to the bondage from which God delivered them and from which they yearned to leave. God had to wait for a new generation to believe before he could bring them to the land He promised. Molly didn't have to wait. She was ready to act.

-Michael Elliott-c/o Movie Parables

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