Picks and Pans Review: Rabbit-Proof Fence
Everlyn Sampi, Kenneth Branagh
Three girls, ages 14, 10 and 8, are snatched from their Aboriginal mothers by law officers in Australia in 1931 and transported to a faraway government-run school. The justification: The children (Sampi, Tianna Sansbury and Laura Mon-aghan) are half white. The government, as personified by a priggish bureaucrat (Branagh), believes it's acting to benefit the girls; they will be taught English and trained as domestic servants. Rabbit-Proof Fence, an achingly good film based on a true story (see page 157), tells how two of the three escaped and walked 1,000 miles home across the barren out-back, following a fence that stretched across the country.
The movie is directed with great sensitivity by Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American). He lets the narrative unfold simply and directly, making its emotional punch all the more powerful. This story may be Australian, but it is really that of all youngsters caught up in political machinations bigger than themselves, and who long only for a safe harbor. (PG)
BOTTOM LINE: Moving and memorable
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