Discuss the Symbolism and Motifs in the ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’. What Do They Represent and How Do They Contribute to the Story?

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Rabbit Proof Fence

Discuss the symbolism and motifs in the ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’. What do they represent and how do they contribute to the story?

The film ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ conveys the importance of family, belonging and country to the Aboriginal people and provides the audience with an insight of the division between the Europeans and the Aboriginal people. The Director, Philip Noyce displays these themes by the use of symbolism and motifs. Symbolism is the use of one object to represent a notion or other object, whereas a motif is the recurrence of an object, theme, and subject throughout the film. The ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ is based on a true story on how Aboriginal families were treated by politicians and government. It follows the journey of three young girls, Molly, Gracie and Daisy who were taken from their mothers and moved to the Moore River Orphanage Settlement to be integrated into the white culture, forgetting about their history and background, and how they escape and find their way home. The use of symbolism and motifs such as the spirit bird, the rabbit proof fence and the umbilical cord together with film techniques and music illustrates the strong sense of community, hope, freedom and belonging and helps draw the audience into the film through the sense of vulnerability of the girls. The Spirit Bird, Molly’s totem, is both a major symbol and motif that is used through the entire film. It gives Molly the inspiration, determination, hope and a sense of connection between her and her homeland. The bird is used to portray the sense of freedom and a guide to help Molly through the difficult times on the journey home. It symbolises safety and protection after the children were taken away from their mother. It also symbolises the identity and faith of the Aboriginals. At the beginning of the film Molly’s mother, Maude, points to a bird flying overhead and says to Molly, “See that Bird? That’s a spirit bird; he will always look after you.”...
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