Summary: An overview of the ways in which the film "Rabbit-Proof Fence" conveys the importance of home, family, and country to indigenous peoples.
At the beginning of the film, it is shown how Molly's family hunt for food and use their bush skills in their culture, to survive in their home land, while speaking their own language, doing what they do in their community. Their community have their own civilisation and get taught their own lessons of their past generation of stories. Molly's mother tells her about these stories, in which they call "Dream...
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Rabbit-Proof Fence (RPF) directed by Philip Noyce is based upon the novel 'Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence' by Doris Pilkington. RPF is a doco-drama based in the 1930's, which deals the issue of the stolen generation. Three young girls are taken from their homes in a rural northern town of Western Australia, two thousand kilometres from home to the Moore River Native settlement in order to be assimilated. Noyce through (RPF) uses many filmic codes such as audio, written, technical and symbolic, to position me o respond in a sympathetic way towards to the meaning of the film.
Through the use of written codes both at the start and end of the film. I am immediately positioned to feel sympathetic towards Molly, her sister Daisy and her cousin Gracie. Instantly from the words 'This is my story' and the facts on where Jigalong and Moore River actually is, I get an understanding of what is going to happen. I am then confronted with an aerial shot of Australia, this is related back to through out the film. This with the written codes presents me with an idea of vastness and the wilderness that something big is going to happen.
The use of technical codes through out the film provokes sympathy towards the meaning of the stolen generation and the differences between the marginalised Aboriginal people. With the use of a hand held camera in the scene, where the three girls are takes creates an emotional response from the viewers. This is because the effect of the hand held camera creates an idea that we are really there, this is what is happening in front of our eyes. People are being treated this way and the only difference may be because they are of different race.
Also many close up shot emphasises the girls and the pain they go through. Right through out the film the emphasis is on the girls and with the close up of Molly we get a picture of Molly a girl with 'chocolate' coloured skin, dark black hair and the biggest, brownest 'teddy bear' eyes. This makes me as a viewer sympathetic and helps me try to understand what she is going through. With her courage and determination to get back home, to see her mum and family once more.
Also through the use of tilt shows and dolly shots, we get the image of the 'bad' guys or the antagonists. In this case is Mr Neville (Mr Devil) and Constable Riggs. Although Constable Riggs could be considered a 'good guy' tilt shots are often used. In the start of (RPF) the tilt is used from the feet of the horse, up to his boots, rifles and then head. This is used to distinctively establish the antagonist. However with Mr Neville viewed with Dutch tilts and dolly shots establish another more powerful antagonist. In the office in Perth the camera is Dutch tilted which immediately addressed to me that something was not right about him. Then the camera dolly's in to show what he is writing on his card. This then immediately positioned me to feel anger and resentment towards Mr Neville. Especially after he says 'I am only trying to do the best for them.' Why can't he leave them alone and let the Aboriginal parents look after their own kids?
Through the use of symbolic codes the meaning of Aboriginal culture is brought alive to me. Through out the film (along with others) the spirit bird symbolises the identity and faith of the Aborigines. Also the Rabbit-Proof Fence can be seen as a link between mother and daughter when they both stand at each end. But the spirit bird in the salt lake scene gives Molly energy to get up and continue on home. The spirit bird was a symbol of freedom and a guide that would help her in the most difficult times. This gave me a sense of hope and happiness towards Molly and the concept of her being able to get home safely and with strength.
Finally through the use of audio codes I am positioned to feel sympathetic or sadness for certain situations. For example when Molly is with her family in the first scene the music is soft and inviting, it could be said that it was played on an organ. The family is together; it's a joyful occasion. However in the last scene where Constable Riggs is confronted with Molly's mum and grandma there is an eyrie feeling about it. It is deep, mournful and sounds like women singing songs of sadness. When confronted its almost as If Molly's mum and gran have the force of spirits behind them, which scares him off. The audio creates emphasis and danger. Also with Mr Neville the music is deep and uninviting, which yet again distinguishes the 'bad' people from the good and events.
Through out the film (RPF) Noyce employs many filmic techniques such as audio, written, symbolic and technical. To position me to respond sympathetically with sadness, hope or anger towards the meaning of the film and certain characters.
By Kirsten Kleiber.