Film Review Notes Rabbit Proof Fence

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The Start of the Film

The film begins with background information, powerful music and what appear to be abstract images.

The vastness of the outback and the girls' daunting trip is highlighted by the opening aerial shots, and additional overhead shots confirm their tininess against the fence.

Name a recurring theme throughout the film.

Throughout the film, the girls are pictured as frightened rabbits trapped on the wrong side of the fence - wide-eyed as if caught in headlights, caged in a hutch transporting them away to the settlement, huddled like baby rabbits on the Bush floor.

The Eagle

Very early in the film, we see the eagle, Molly’s totem, her spirit bird. Her mother tells her the

Eagle will look after her. When does the bird appear again in the film and why?

The eagle symbolises Molly’s freedom. It recurs in her dreams and when she thinks of her mother.

Why is the rabbit-proof fence so important in the film?

The biggest irony lies in this central motif, because it was the fence's construction that brought the children’s white fathers to the previously isolated Aboriginal communities in the first place.

Screenwriter Christine Olsen says, "the fence has always been such an amazing symbol for the Europeans' attempt to tame the land: to draw a line … it's such a magnificent symbol for a lot of what's happened to Australia."

In a particularly moving movement, the fence is touched (swung back and forth)by Molly and the girls and Molly’s mother simultaneously, as a means of calling/communicating with each other, one could imagine that the vibration of movement in the fence is felt by Molly’s mother so many miles away .

The importance of the sound track

Music is used to create mood and atmosphere. Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack Long Walk Home draws power to the scenes. Gabriel has successfully blended traditional aboriginal instruments such as the didgeridoo with the modern instruments to withdraw dramatic emotion.

Camera Angles

1 During the emotionally charged scene when RIggs tears the girls from their mother’s arms, Phillip Noyce uses ground level camera angles that keep up with the action, drawing the audience in the traumatic scene.

2 The camera looks down at Molly as she looks up at the Eagle. Molly looks straight at the camera.

Camera Movement and Position

As the girls are driven away there is a close up of Molly and Maude (Molly’s mother) banging on the car, the camera then zooms out to show the car moving away and Maude chasing it. Finally Maude is shown close up chasing the car and the camera pans out to show the car leaving Maude and the other women behind. The scene shows how heart wrenching and traumatic the removal of the girls was.


The joining of two pieces of film together (splice): Molly looking up at the Eagle, the Eagle in the sky and back to Molly again.

Dialogue Overlap

One of the first scenes shows Maude talking in the background in her own dialect as two men on horses discuss the future of the girls in English.


1 Molly is sleeping and has flashbacks to the first scenes when she is talking to her mother in their own language.

2 Molly remembers Mr Neville examining her colour and rejecting her for being too black.

Long Shot

Shot of the Moore River Native Settlement whilst the children are sitting down and some are performing Mr Neville’s favourite song.

Long Take

At the very beginning of the film there is a long take of the desert.

Medium Shot

As the girls awaken on the first day at the settlement, the top half of their bodies are in the shot.

Point of View

The shot is taken with the camera placed approximately where the character’s eyes would be, showing what the character would see: Molly being called out of line by Mr Neville. Molly’s point of view is shown as she slowly walks up to Mr Neville and when he bends down to talk to her.

The character of Moodoo

Moodoo the tracker is...
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