How Noyce Creates Empathy for the Main Characters in the Film: Rabbit Proof Fence
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Rabbit Proof Fence is a great film based on the real tale and experiences of three young Aboriginal girls, Molly, Gracie and Daisy, who were taken against their will from their families in Jigalong, Western Australia in 1931. The film puts a human face on the "Stolen Generation", an event which categorized links between the government and Aborigines in Australia for a lot of the 20th century.
The opening sequence of the Rabbit Proof Fence introduces you to the Aboriginal people. The scene begins with white writing on a black background which informs us of the situation in Australia in 1931 and the effects it has had in Australia. This is followed by an aerial shot of Australia?s desert which is hot, vast, desolate and has no vegetation showing the audience the difficulty someone would have trying to travel across this desert. Subsequently Molly?s voice over begins, she tells us in simple sentences her story. There are subtitles because she talks in her native tongue to represent Phillip Noyce?s respect for the Aboriginals. The screen, after tilting across the land stops at the small rabbit proof fence, which gives the effect that there are only a few white people compared to the number of Aboriginals.
Phillip Noyce then gives us shots of Molly in her usual environment. She looks happy, content and secure. There is a smile on her face and the lighting is high key. The focus is completely on her. She is then joined by her mother, Maud who explains about a bird flying over, which she calls the spirit bird. The bird symbolises freedom, power and Molly?s home. This part of the film also shows the affection Molly and her mother have for each other. After that Molly?s whole happy family is shown and Molly catches a go...
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... tearing eyes because some stranger is checking her skin colour and judging her on that.
After escaping, Molly decides the only way for the girls to reach their home is to follow the Rabbit Proof Fence. There are many shots of the barren landscape as Molly leads her younger sister Daisy and cousin Gracie to the fence. As they run to the fence the music is optimistic which reflects the character?s moods. When they reach the fence, the girls hold the fence just as Maud is doing so and there are jump shots between them, showing their strong connection to each other.
The film conveys the feelings of the characters very well. Phillip Noyce uses lighting which always goes very well with the scenes even though he uses a lot of non-diegetic and contrapuntal sounds. The film?s shots are always correct and seem to have a purpose and the editing is wonderful.