PROOF FENCE: Reviewed by Sam North
Directed by PHILLIP NOYCE
Screenplay by CHRISTINE OLSEN
Produced by PHILLIP NOYCE CHRISTINE OLSEN Director of Photography
CHRISTOPHER DOYLE H.K.S.C
Production Designer Costume
Designer ROGER FORD
Edited by JOHN SCOTT VERONIKA JENET
Music by PETER GABRIEL
DORIS PILKINGTON& GARIMARA
DAVID GULPILIL NINGALI
LAWFORD MYARN LAWFORD
19th and 20th Century is full of crimes against humanity. Racial
discrimination and racial engineering are a well documented fact
and source of shame in South Africa. In the USA the native population
was decimated by greed, hatred and a deliberate misunderstanding
of the rights and needs of the American Indian. The white
man and his God created havoc, pain and misery all across
South America, North Africa, and the Caribbean. You cant turn
around without seeing the effects of slavery and then apartheid
(in whatever name it was called in other places). Somehow, Australia
has escaped most of the appropriation for its treatment of the aboriginal
peoples over the centuries.
Proof Fence ably and poignantly directed by Philip Noyce tackles
one particular nasty element of the administration of that countrys
native people. Successive Australian Governments, from the late
twenties, all the way up to the 1970s, followed a program
of taking so called half-caste children from their mothers
and placing them in a camp where they were trained to
be servants and good Christians.
This systematic destruction of family values of aboriginal
people made them despair, self-destruct and reinforced in the eyes
of the white man that native people werent a culture worth
carries Daisy across the desert
Proof Fence is not a scientific film; it is not a political film. Its
not a thriller or dealing with an untold secret holocaust what
it is, is a testimony to the human spirit, to courage and fortitude. It
displays a righteous hatred for this system that dehumanised native peoples.
Set in 1931 Australia,
same methods were used in South Africa, but there whole families
were uprooted and shipped out to homelands or remote
townships where there was no work and poor farming land. The impoverishment
of the black and brown people of South Africa was alarmingly depressing
and self-fulfilling. Its no use hiding behind history. The
Nazis were just an extreme example of the same thing. Intolerance,
injustice, Christian values, racial hatred made these things happen
and the consequences of these events still reverberate and destroy
It tells the true tale of Molly, Gracie and little Daisy who were abducted
by the government against their will and taken to Moors Farm 1500 miles
from their home. Here they would be trained to be willing slaves
house maids and shop workers. (The lighter skinned ones would be taken
elsewhere to be educated.
The eldest child Molly,
beautifully played by Everylyn Sampi
utterly rejected this life and first chance she got, she took her fellow
abductees Gracie and Daisy, so tiny she couldnt possibly last and
they set out to find the Rabbit Proof Fence that would take them home.
All 1500 miles.
This is a remarkable journey, you cant help but feel for their courage
and will and when you discover that poor Molly did this twice! You just
weep for her and a society that could be so cruel.
Kenneth Branagh as the Administrator is cold, calculating, and filled
with almost religious zeal for his job and the keeper of racial
purity. The rest are just following orders.
Molly and the two other children Gracie and Daisy break your heart with
their simple desire to find their way home against all odds and there
is not necessarily a happy ending.
See Rabbit Proof Fence its a real film about real issues.
It's a lesson as well as a damn good drama that just happens to be true.
© Sam North December 2002
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