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Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof Fence

4.7 11
Director: Phillip Noyce

Cast: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan


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After directing a number of major motion pictures in the United States, Australian-born filmmaker Phillip Noyce returned home to make this remarkable adventure-drama, based on a true story as well as a lamentable period in his nation's history. When European settlers first arrived in Australia, there was an almost immediate conflict between the recent arrivals and the


After directing a number of major motion pictures in the United States, Australian-born filmmaker Phillip Noyce returned home to make this remarkable adventure-drama, based on a true story as well as a lamentable period in his nation's history. When European settlers first arrived in Australia, there was an almost immediate conflict between the recent arrivals and the nation's indigenous people, whose rich cultural heritage which bore little resemblance to that of the Europeans. By the mid-19th century, when white settlers had gained political control of the continent, many aborigines found themselves removed from their lands and their children taken from them, under the belief that the youngsters would be better off in a more "civilized" environment. Through most of the 20th century, it was official government policy that half- or quarter-caste indigenous children were to be taken from their families and raised as "white" children in orphanages, where they would be trained to work as domestic servants or laborers. In 1931, Molly (Everlyn Sampi) and her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) were three half-caste children from Western Australia who were taken from their parents under government edict and sent to an institution, where they were subject to physical and emotional abuse as they were taught to forget their families, their culture, and their lives up to that point and re-invent themselves as members of "white" Australian society. Gracie and Daisy cling to Molly for support, and Molly decides they need to return to their parents. Molly plans a daring escape, and the three girls begin an epic journey back to Western Australia, travelling 1,500 miles on foot with no food or water, and navigating by following the fence that has been build across the nation to stem an over-population of rabbits. A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the government functionary in charge of relocating Western Australia's aborigines, takes a special interest in the case of the three girls, and brings in a veteran tracker, Moodoo (David Gulpilil) to help find them, secure in the belief he's acting in their best interest. Rabbit-Proof Fence was based on the acclaimed book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, whose Aunt Daisy was one of the three children who made the extraordinary journey and helped her with the research for the book.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
The true story of three Aboriginal girls' bravery and determination is told with power in Rabbit-Proof Fence, an inspiring labor of love from director Phillip Noyce. The film is set in 1931, when an Australian government official (Kenneth Branagh) is authorized to remove "half-caste" children from their families and assimilate them into Caucasian bloodlines. The story follows three girls who escape from captivity to walk 900 miles back to their home village, where their mother awaits. Noyce lets nothing interfere with this simple and affecting drama. Instead, he relies on superb, unadorned performances. Branagh provides the star power, but his acting is a marvel of understatement, bringing a dry touch to his portrayal of a smug, horribly misguided bureaucrat. The three girls (all first-time actors) steal every scene, particularly Everlyn Sampi as the oldest, whose confident, mysterious charisma becomes the center around which the emotive force of the film revolves. Also striking is the performance of David Gulpilil as an Aboriginal tracker who pursues the girls wordlessly throughout the film. Although the girls are clearly shown to be victims of a systematic and tragic injustice, the film refuses to sentimentalize; while acknowledging victimization, it is more interested in celebrating the girls' spirit and empowerment. Also adding to the film's effect are camera work by virtuoso cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Peter Gabriel's brilliant score, which is infused with native music and the sounds of the Outback. The result is a beautiful, haunting film that is nothing short of an instant classic.
All Movie Guide
Based on Doris Pilkington's novel, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, this odyssey about three young aboriginal girls who escape a governmental internment camp and trek across the outback to return home, is touching, if a little near-sighted. Bringing to the fore the shocking government policy that Australia had in place from the 1930s through the 1970s, whereby "half-caste" children (of mixed aboriginal and white descent) were removed from their families to be trained as domestic servants, Phillip Noyce's film flatly addresses the racism that the country was built upon. Although the trio of youngsters turn in top-notch performances, along with Kenneth Branagh, who is wonderful as the cold, level-headededly brutal politician, A.O. Neville, this strong drama never manages to bring its timely story into the present day. Unable to relate its tale of entrenched racism to our current state of affairs, the film makes the mistake of portraying this historical atrocity as just that: a thing of the past.
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Noyce honors the story best by standing back (and getting Kenneth Branagh, as a supercilious official, to stand back, too): Noyce lets the landscape and the untrained young actresses own the screen, particularly the naturally magnetic Everlyn Sampi.
Time Magazine - Richard Corliss
This is a chase movie (Simon Legree after three Little Evas) across parched outback terrain, captured with rapturous authenticity by cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
The final scene of the film contains an appearance and a revelation of astonishing emotional power; not since the last shots of Schindler's List have I been so overcome with the realization that real people, in recent historical times, had to undergo such inhumanity.
New York Post
Noyce paces this amazing story well, and even if his young actors don't seem to have physically suffered as much as they would during such a long journey, he makes extremely good use of the bleak Outback scenery. Lou Lumenick

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Stereo]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Everlyn Sampi Molly Craig
Tianna Sansbury Daisy Craig
Laura Monaghan Gracie Fields
David Gulpilil Moodoo
Kenneth Branagh A.O. Neville
Deborah Mailman Mavis
Jason Clarke Constable Riggs
Ningali Lawford Molly's Mother
Myarn Lawford Mooly's Grandmother
Garry McDonald Mr. Neal
Roy Billing Police Inspector
Andrew S. Gilbert Depot Manager
Ken Radley Fence Worker

Technical Credits
Phillip Noyce Director,Producer
George Acogny Musical Direction/Supervision
Laura Burrows Associate Producer
Craig Carter Sound/Sound Designer
Christopher Doyle Cinematographer
David Elfick Executive Producer
Roger Ford Costumes/Costume Designer,Production Designer
Peter Gabriel Score Composer
Veronika Jenet Editor
Christine King Casting
Kathleen McLaughlin Executive Producer
Christine Olsen Producer,Screenwriter
Emma Schofield Asst. Director
John Scott Editor
Jeremy Thomas Executive Producer
John Winter Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Rabbit-Proof Fence
1. Daily Life [5:35]
2. Taken [6:27]
3. Bred Out [5:03]
4. Unfamiliar Life [3:31]
5. Here To Help [7:14]
6. Bad Place [4:14]
7. Escape [6:34]
8. Lost [7:17]
9. Spreading News [6:45]
10. Close Call [5:54]
11. Evading The Tracker [5:49]
12. Split [7:31]
13. Exhaustion [5:27]
14. The Sound Of Home [6:17]
15. Lack Of Funding [9:53]

Customer Reviews

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Rabbit-Proof Fence 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
HollowellTheForgottenRoom 5 months ago
This is an excellent story of stolen children, who escape and make their way home. After just two days at a boarding school for Aboriginal children, Molly, Daisy, and Gracie flee into the Outback. They head north, into the bush, and travel along the rabbit-proof fence. Along the way, they dodge the tracker on horseback and are helped by kind settlers. The film is set in 1931 and is based on a true story. The soundtrack contains traditional music; there is minimal dialogue, as is fitting; and the photography depicts the Australian Outback accurately. It is stark and dry with flies but contains secret resources know to native peoples. Separating children from their cultures and placing them in boarding schools was a human rights violation. The practice occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries in nations around the world: in the United States, in Canada, and in Russia, as well as in Australia. Only Canada has issued an apology.
Nathan_B More than 1 year ago
A history of which I did not know that took place in Australia. An eye opener indeed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The movie is amazing and the making if it, especially finding untrained children in the outback who are untouched enough by current world, is another amazing story. And the comparison of the two, a third. Don't miss seeing the making of. I buy few DVDs but I had to buy this one and have since recommended it unceasingly to others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Philip Noyce has made a first class chase/survival film that works as a semi-factual piece of cinema.Based on fact,one has to be a little sceptical regarding what Noyce is asking us to accept as actual fact. The film asks us to believe that 3 children aged from eight to fourteen could walk 1200 miles with little food and water across some of the most barren and forbidding country in the world. The film also chooses to ignore the fact that many of these children were living in atrocious conditions,with alcoholic mothers often unable to care properly for themselves let alone for their children.Although we cannot ignore the terrible trauma these children must have gone through we cannot also deny that in the long run many of them were better off in their new lives. If film makers want us to accept their movies as factual they should give all the facts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful movie, so simple yet powerful! I was unaware of the history of the native people of Australia and what several generations endured. It is a horror to think that these children were forcibly removed from there families as recently as 1970 just because they were mixed~! The story is amazing and the music is haunting. I was touched by the strength shown by these 3 girls. You have to watch the extras on the dvd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film opened my eyes and moved me, an experience I have not felt in years as a movie-goer. The stark honest performances of the children and particularly Molly's sense of defiance and belief in herself was remarkable, portrayed beautifully by young Everlyn Sampi. I especially enjoyed her connection with the hawk, a guiding force as well as the fence for helping the girls find their way home. The cinematography is superb, capturing the raw, dry wildnerness of the Australian Outback, and Peter Gabriel's score enhances this with echoes of chants and rhythms. The images and sounds have stayed with me for weeks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is fantastic. It is so well done, so beautifully heartbreaking. I just kept thinking about it for days afterwards. Do yourself a favor and watch this amazing story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie reveals the plight of the human spirit, watch three beautiful children defy the wishes of the dominent white culture and return to their native tribal roots. You will laugh, cry, and root the children on as they travel 1500 miles on foot, braving the elements and out-smarting those who try to ''civilize'' them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is done so well. I had to watch it twice because I was so moved by the story. Please watch this. You will not regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was such a wonderful film! I could not stop thinking about the story and the wonderful spirit of those three girls. The director's story at the end is awesome and how he found the three girls to play these parts in incredible. I HIGHLY recommend the time for this film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago