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Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002, Australia) ***

Rabbit-Proof FenceWhile this Australian docudrama deserves 5 stars for highlighting a dark period in racial history, as a movie, it is somewhat uneven and I chose to rate it by its film qualities versus by topic. It is almost fascinating to see how racism wears different shades at different times and places. Rabbit-Proof Fence highlights not discrimination, such as practiced by whites against Native-Americans and African-Americans in the USA, nor the extermination and ethnic cleansing practiced by Nazis against the Jews, but rather a combination of both: an attempt to purify the blood of mixed race Aboriginals in Australia between approximately 1869 and 1969. This was done legally enabling the authorities to take away children from their parents, and provide them with cultural education so they may breed with “purer” blood, resulting in no traces left of their original ethnicity with as little as three generations. The plot, based on a true story (though disputable at parts – claims were made that the stealing was done for other, more humanitarian, reasons), follows three young girls, stolen from their families, while they make their way back home along Australia’s famous Rabbit-Proof Fence – a fence constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits and other agricultural pests out of Western Australian pastoral areas; a fence that lead the girls back home while playing a quiet symbolic part in the film. Looking back, such unimaginable acts of a civilized nation may seem insane by today’s standards. Yet again, living in the USA today and watching discrimination continues against gays – what will a generation 50 years from now think of us? Rabbit-Proof Fence may not be a solid piece in terms of film-making, nor an accurate account of history, but it is a movie worth seeing all the same in the hope we can all learn something from the past.

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