The movie “Rabbit-Proof Fence” directed by Hollywood based Australian director, Phillip Noyce. The Screenplay of the movie is written by Christine Olsen, an adaptation of Doris Pilkington’s book.
The film is fiction based on fact, tells the real-life story of three Aboriginal girls, Molly, Gracie, Daisy, who were taken from their family and sent to Moore River Native Settlement and it justified by “Chief Protector of Aborigines” A.O. Neville, as a solution to “the problem of half-caste” children with Aboriginal and white heritage. 1
The policies portrayed in the movie and real life was given effect by the Australian government. It is known as the Stolen Generations. Mixed race Aboriginal children were taken by force from their families. Some of those children were taken at birth, some at later years. They were sent to foster families or raised in training schools, special purpose institutions to prepare them for lives as factory workers or domestic servants. Some parents know that where their children had been taken and could keep a connection with them. In some cases, they had no idea whether their children. The primary target is to make these children forget their customs, language and become entirely assimilated into white culture.
Doris Pilkington, an Aboriginal name is Nugi Garimara, author of Follow the Rabbit-Proof. A Story her mother, Molly Crag, her aunt Daisy and their cousin Gracie, who were torn apart from their families and relocated. It is considered a powerful example of the maltreatment of aboriginal people by the Stolen Generation. Doris Pilkington and her younger sister Annabelle also were a member of the stolen generation. In “Under the Wintamarra Tree” she tells her own story at Moore River. “Any person who was a member of the stolen generations owns their story”2. Over twenty years later Molly Craig was reunited with a daughter Doris. Unfortunately with Annabelle didn’t go well. She denies her Aboriginal ancestry and two women have never seen each other again. Doris Pilkington died of ovarian cancer at age of 76.
The year 1931, three Aboriginal girls, fourteen-year-old Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her eight-year-old sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury), and their ten-year-old cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) live in Jigalong with their mothers and grandmother.
The opening scene of the movie starts with a view of the desert lands and the sunny sky and landscapes and it accompanied by voiceover narration of Molly Craig, the real one. Spoken language is Aboriginal. Then camera focuses on 14 years old, young Molly, who seems so happy and comfortable at home with the family surrounding. They are learning tribal lessons passed down through the generations. In one scene, Molly’s mother (Ningali Lawford) points to a bird flying overhead and says: “The Spirit bird that will take care of her” and teaches her tracking techniques.
Three little girls, each has a different white father. Construction workers or government employees, who worked on the rabbit-proof fence enjoyed sex with local aboriginal women and then moved on. They have only contact with white people on the weekly ration day at Jigalong storehouse where they were forcibly torn apart from mothers by a government officer.
A.O. Neville, played by Kenneth Branagh in the movie, amateur eugenicist, the chief protector of Aborigines for Western Australia. He was the brainchild of “the breeding out of colour” and in the future is called “the policy of biological assimilation or absorption”.3 The biological base of the policy was the claim that, given the remote racial affinity between the Aborigine and the European, a program of controlled breeding out of the half cast was, quadroons and octoroons had every prospect in a matter of three or four or five generation all native characteristics of Australian Aborigine will be eradicated. The problem of our half-castes will quickly be eliminated by the complete disappearance of the black race and the swift submergence of their progeny in the white”4, depicted as “unwanted third race” in the movie. As a legal guardian of every Aborigine in Western Australia, he has the power to remove any half cast child from their families or give permission to marry. “The bush natives have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not. The sore spot requires the application of the surgeon’s knife for the good of the patient, and probably against the patient’s will “5 says, Neville.
1 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999
2 said Doris Pilkington Garimara
3 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999
4 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999.
5 Zalums, E (Elmar) and Stafford. H. “A bibliography of Western Australian Royal Commissions, select committees of parliament and boards of inquiry, 1870-1979” 1980