The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Rabbit-Proof Fence

This is a re-creation of a true story set in 1930's Australia. Children born of cross-breeding between whites and aboriginals were checked for the lightness of their skin. If light enough, they could be forcibly separated from their families, moved to re-education camps, and taught how to live in a white world - all for their own betterment, since they had enough good genes to be able to learn and to comport themselves in a "civilized" fashion. Fortunately this practice is no longer legal. Make sure to check the closing supertitles in the movie to see how long it went on.

The movie becomes a sort of "Fantastic Journey" for people instead of pets, with three young girls (ages maybe 6-10) walking over 1,200 miles back to their families after breaking out of the camp. The government and an aboriginal tracker are on their trail the whole way. All three actresses are aboriginal girls with no acting experience. It shows sometimes, but they deliver a sincerity and realism that Dakota Fanning would not necessarily have provided.

The movie is good, but not great. It has just a little too much of that earnest Hallmark Special treatment. But it's certainly worth seeing. The plot is a fascinating look at a bit of Australian history that not many Americans are familiar with. Although completely safe for children, I have a feeling they might get bored. The long walk back takes a heck of a long time! And the scene where the girls are taken away from their family may be too emotionally upsetting for youngsters.

The disc includes a long behind the scenes mini-documentary on the search for the girls to play the lead parts and on their struggles to deal with the strange world of film-making. It gets good about ten or fifteen minutes in and is worth watching. The closing line is one for the ages.

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