A newly restored and remastered ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ made its world premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival.
This version, which will be available to stream on Netflix, certainly shows off the impressive visuals of the film matched by a haunting score from Peter Gabriel. Yet the power of the story remains in the plight of its heroes and the determination they showed.
Molly Craig. Daisy Craig Kadibil. Gracie Fields.
Three girls aged eight to fourteen, who were removed from their mothers and sent to a camp.
Three girls who set out on a 2,400 kilometre journey because, as one character puts it, they “just want to go home”.
Just three girls out of how many, from a generation that was stolen from their loved ones?
Something that stands out is how patronising the oppressors are, speaking in benevolent tones as they act inhumanely. This is a gut-wrenching tale made even more affecting in the restraint that Director Phillip Noyce employs. Think on one character’s plea, “Please stay, he won’t come back if you’re here”. Or how the legendary David Gulpilil as Moodoo the Tracker does his performance almost virtually without any dialogue.
Deborah Mailman, Kenneth Branagh and David are excellent in the picture, but it belongs to the young cast Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, Natahsa Wanganeen and led by Everlyn Sampi, who are extraordinary. Scenes open with far-reaching landscape shots that show how the land was carved out. We can see the figures of The Dreaming in the vistas before coming to look at three figures huddled together as if back in the womb.
Phillip has made some of the great cinematic set pieces and here grips us in suspense for what is essentially an extended chase. Yet, his films have always been interested in the human condition and not without political themes, starting with ‘Backroads’. This may be his masterpiece, where returning home from the noise of big Hollywood he made a quiet movie that echoed louder than anyone could possibly imagine.
That echo continues today.