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Movie Review: Rabbit-Proof Fence

Story: The dingo did not steal the baby in this Australian film as it did in the 1987 film, A Cry in the Dark. This time the Australian Government is the guilty party. The shameless policy of removing thousands of half-caste (white fathers, native mothers) Aboriginal children from their families caused a schism throughout the country that still exists today. This policy lasted from 1901 through 1971. The Government has still not apologized for these despicable acts.

Director Philip Noyce (The Quiet American) beautifully and simply depicts this historical tragedy through the story of one family. There is also an excellent screenplay by Christine Olsen, based on the book by a daughter of one of the three girls featured in the film. It is a moving, visually stunning (cinematography by Christopher Doyle) tale of three young girls who were taken from their families, moved 1200 miles to a reeducation school (where half-castes' are taught to be domestic servants and farm laborers), escape and walk all the way home. The 'rabbit-proof fence' refers to a 1500 mile fence to keep the ever growing rabbit population out of the grazing lands. The girls trek homeward along this fence.

Their trek is about determination, survival, will and strength. It is a marathon journey filled with inspiration and hope. Noyce could have bogged down the story with tirades about this shameful Government policy about the elimination of a people but instead chose the high road and depicts the strength of a people through these three little girls. Bravo!

Acting: The three little girls are beautiful to watch. They say very little but express a great deal. Kenneth Branagh keeps his tendency to go over the top in check and gives a very convincing performance as Mr. Neville, the administrator of the awful program.

Prediliction: I like movies about survival and determination.

Critters: Some dogs, a rabbit, a hawk (with an important part), a very large lizard but not a single dingo in sight. By the way, the rabbit is not indigenous to Australia (like the white man) but was brought there and has caused much havoc to Australia's natural wildlife and landscape.

Food: Unidentifiable gruel at the girls' school and a lot of'catch what you can as the girls trek along to get home.

Visual Art: None. But I again, stress the magnificence of the cinematography. Many of the scenes are set up as if they were landscape paintings.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: A sound track by Peter Gabriel is very moving.

Opening Titles: None. All credits are at the end. The beginning simply explains the historical terms of the Australian Government's policy.

Theater Audience: Fairly Spartan. People clapped at the end of the film.

Squirm Scale: I squirmed because of the shame of the Australian Government.

Predictability Level: It is a true story. So this in not applicable.

Tissue Usage: 1 (those little girls got to me).

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick. It did take me a little bit of time to adjust to the accents at the beginning, but I got used to them.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. Here are some of director Philip Noyce's other films for you to rent: The Quiet American, The Bone Collector, The Saint, Clear And Present Danger, Sliver, Patriot Games, Blind Fury, Dead Calm, Echoes of Paradise, Heatwave and Newsfront.

Length: A mere 93 minutes.