The Rabbit-Proof Fence

The film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” is a very enlightening and touching story about three Aborigine girls: Daisy, Molly and Gracie. The film takes place in Australia during the 1930’s. During this time in Australia, it was becoming more and more common for children to be born half Australian and half Aboriginal. These children were viewed by the government as needing help and rehabilitation for being half Aboriginal. The story follows three Aboriginal girls who are taken from their homes and family to the Moore River Native Settlement. The Moore River Native Settlement was set up by the Australian government  The girls are forced to choose between becoming forcefully integrated into the “White Culture”.

One thing that really stood out to me about this movie was the using of lighting throughout the movie. In the beginning of the film when the girls are with their families on their native land everything beautifully lit and colored. This helps set a reference of what is “normal” in the world of these girls. As the film continues the tone/lighting begins to become more and more dark. When the girls are taken to The Moore River Native Settlement the lighting becomes a lot more dark and the colors become more washed out and gloomy. For example, one scene I found particularly moving was when the young Aboriginal girl tries to escape the Moore River Native Settlement and is capture by Moodoo. When they bring her back to the Settlement and throw her in a small metal box as punishment. Through the holes in the metal box you see both perspectives of what is like looking and out. Looking in to the box is a lot darker and portrays a sense of claustrophobic and hopeless. While looking out of the box shows bright light, portraying hope and freedom. I felt all these emotions without any characters saying anything. As the film goes on the girls: Daisy, Molly and Gracie decide to escape from the Moore River Native Settlement. From this point on the footage is from far away to show a sense of distances.  Then the lighting goes into a darker time to help show the dangers and struggles the girls are going through. The way the lighting is portrayed throughout the film shows the ups and downs in the film. In the last scene Molly and Daisy are shown when they’re grown up. The scene shows them standing next to each other in a the forrest with strong natural lighting. The scene would have not been as effective without the strong natural lighting. The lighting shows a sense of fulfillment and helps to wrap up the film without having to use words like: The End.

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One thought on “The Rabbit-Proof Fence

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post and did not at all notice the lighting changes throughout the film. And now that you bring that up I totally agree with you on the point you make about the idea of transition and struggle, cinematographic darkening, the girls went through over their journey. The idea of purity and home, the sun shinning and “normality” in the beginning, and then the all of a sudden change to their lives when they are taken away. Where they feel like outsiders, and from then on are forever changed as people, and could now never truly go back to their ‘normal’ life because they are always going to be chased, and thus your observation of darkening throughout the film. As well, the next point you bring up about the girl being stuck in a mental box with holes and the light of the outside shinning in, I too felt strong emotion during this part of the film, even though none of the characters talked. In which I applaud the movie for. I think it is substantial when a film can cinematographically “get to you,” and I believe that is what makes cinema so beautiful; aesthetic images that can resonate and touch you a variety of different ways without words. The way the directors and cinematographers manipulate their canvas to portray a perspective and feeling towards it’s audience I think is what made this movie so powerful and compelling to tell. Great post!

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