4th August 2017

The rabbit proof fence


TEXT: Rabbit Proof Fence



Who are the central characters?

Where are they?

What is their central situation?

Molly Craig

Molly has grown up in the Australian Outback in Jigalong. She appears strong, confident, happy and comfortable in this environment.

She is called a “half-caste” and her white father, a fencer, is gone.

Molly can hunt; she protects her younger sister and cousin.

* The “spirit bird is introduced as Molly’s protector and guide, highlighting the strong spiritual beliefs present in the Aboriginal community and Molly’s connection to her homeland.

14 years old

“My Dad was a white man working on that fence.” (Older Molly)

“The white people called me a half-caste.”

Low-angle close up, looking up at Molly, happy in the Jigalong camp.

Point of view shot (from Molly’s perspective) looking up at the hawk; “That’s the spirit bird. He will always protect you.” (Molly’s mother)

Diegetic sounds of the hawk calling  and non-diegetic didgeridoo sounds can be heard.

“Good hunters in this family.” (Molly’s mother)

“That Molly’s getting to be a big girl.”

“How far that Rabbit Fence go to?” Molly asks the fencer. He replies, “It goes all the way to the sea down that way. Right to the top of Australia…and all the way to the sea down that way. 1500 miles long.”

Daisy Kadibil

Molly’s sister; half caste and follows Molly wherever she goes. 8 years old.

“Our dad works there on the fence.”
Gracie Fields

Often depicted with Molly and Daisy, as if she is their full-blooded sister.

Shown in long shots with her family.  She is happy and learning about her culture and environment.
Molly’s mother, grandmother and Auntie (Gracie’s mother)

The women talk in their native language to the girls.

The older women teach the girls to fend for themselves in the Outback.

Molly’s mother jokes about Mr Neville and does not believe her children will be taken from her. (This is her ignorance of Mr Neville’s power.)

Long shots show Molly’s mother encouraging the girls to hunt and teaching the girls (especially Molly) to read animal tracks.

Long shots show the family laughing together. A close up shows Molly’s mother staring at Constable Riggs. She shouts in her Aboriginal tongue: “Molly, hide those kids” and “Policeman looking for half castes.”

Later Molly says to the depot manager at Jigalong: “Molly not going. She get married. You tell that Mr Devil, he want half-caste kid, he make his own.”

Constable Riggs

Has to follow Mr Neville’s instructions- his “go to” man, which causes Riggs to often be in hot, deserted, lonely environments.

Shown in a long shot on his horse, watching the girls.

Shown in a close-up inside the “Jigalong Depot” building, staring at the three girls.

Auber Octavious Neville

A.O.Neville was appointed the Chief Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia from 1915 to 1940. All Aborigines: their rights to marry, children, need of resources and rations, were all under his authority.

* The low angle shots make him look powerful and threatening.

A.O.Neville explains to a women’s society (who sponsor Moore River) why their support is needed.

At the end of the film, Mr Neville orders that police continue to look out for the girls. He despairs at the obstacles they are facing, in the attempt to implement the “Aborigines Act.”

A long shot shows a busy street in Perth, 1931. A black and white wash is placed over the scene.

An extreme close-up shows a document with the handwritten title: “Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth.”

A low angle shot focuses on a neatly-dressed white man at an office table.

His secretary comes in and says, “The next batch,” as if the Aboriginal reports are details not people..

“This report from Constable Riggs about the three half-caste girls at the Jigalong fence depot. The youngest is of particular concern. She is promised to a full blood.”

“I’m authorizing their removal. They’re to be taken to Moore River as soon as possible.”

“Every Aborigine in this state comes under my control.”

“Notice the half-caste child…there are ever increasing numbers of them. What is to happen with them? Are we to allow the creation of an unwanted third race?…Should they be advanced to white status. And be absorbed in the white population.”

A medium shot shows a slide of three generations of people: “half-blood grandmother”, “quadroon daughter,” “octroon grandson” (with almost no sign of Aboriginal blood). “The continuing infiltration of white blood finally stamps out the black colour. The Aboriginal has simply been bred out.” “And in spite of himself, the native must be helped.”

“We face an uphill battle with these people, especially the bush natives who have to be protected against themselves. If they would only understand what we are trying to do for them.”

Moodoo is a full-blooded Aborigine from the Kimberleys. Moodoo has a half-caste daughter at Moore River and this is why he decides to stay at the settlement. He is an excpeptional tracker and is used my Mr Neale (the manager of Moore River) to find “runaways.” Mr Neville also arranges for him to search for Molly, Daisy and Gracie.

It is evident that Moodoo resents the control the white man has over him and his daughter but he will lose contact with her if he refuses to comply.

Moodoo is first shown when the older Aboriginal girl, Nina says to another younger girl: “your dad’s bringing Olive back.” A medium shot shows a full-blooded Aboriginal man on a horse with a young half-caste girl beside him. Non-diegetic didgeridoo sounds are heard.

Nina explains, “She ran away to see her boyfriend.” The supervisor beats the girl and the nun cuts her hair off so that she is “not so attractive.”

Mr Neville speaks with Moodoo: “You wish to return to the Kimberleys? Of course your daughter is here…there would be no question of her going, she would have to stay her and continue her training. I’d be prepared to consider you case in a year or so.”
Moodoo watches his daughter singing, “All things bright and beautiful” in the Moore River Church. He looks unimpressed.
Moodoo changes in the film from being a victim under control, to someone who takes some control back; by freeing the girls.

– His daughter (or him) may not be free, however he can set the girls free.

Low angle shots are often used to show Moodoo tracking the girls. The camera is beneath him to make him look menacing. However, it is evident that Moodoo is fully aware of Molly’s escape tactics and as these become more impressive, he allows her to run.


Jigalong Fence Depot: Northern Australia, 1931 Credits: “Western Australia, 1931. For 100 years the Aboriginal Peoples have resisted the invasion of their lands by white settlers. Now a special law, the Aborigines Act, controls their lives in every detail.”

Mr A.O Neville, the Chief Protector of Aborigines is the legal guardian of every Aborigine in the state of Western Australia. He has the power to remove “any half-caste child from their family, from anywhere in the state.”

High-angle establishing shot moving over the landscape (could be from spirit bird’s perspective). The land is dry and deserted. It looks the same across the terrain.
“Our people, the Jigalong mob, we were desert people then, walking all over our land.” Voice-over from the real, older Molly.

“White people came to our country. They made a storehouse here at Jigalong. Brought clothes, tea and other things- flour, tobacco, tea. Gave them to us on ration day. We came there, made a camp nearby. They were building a long fence.”

Perth, Western Australia, 1931

– Mr Neville’s office.

Black and white street scene- lots of automobiles. Mr A.O.Neville has a tweed suit on and has a neatly clipped hair cut.
A high-angle point of view shot shows a line of Aborigines outside A.O.Neville’s office. One Aboriginal woman, dressed in European clothes: Mary Wilson is crying. Mr Neville’s secretary explains that she is “applying for permission to visit her child at Moore River.”
Moore River Native Settlement Mr Neville explains to the women’s institute (sponsors) that the facility is for “the training of domestic servants and farm labourers. Hundreds of half-caste children have been gathered up and brought here to be given the benefit of everything our culture has to offer. For if we are to it and train our children for the future, they cannot be left as they are.”
Moore River is 1200 miles from Jigalong.
The children arrive at the settlement at night time. Daisy refers to the nun in her white habit as a “ghost.”

As the girls are ushered towards the dormitory, a close-up shows the nun unlocking a pad-locked door.

Inside are a number of half-caste Aboriginal girls in beds. They are told, “the bucket’s in the corner.”

In the morning, all of the girls are ordered by an older “half-caste” girl, Nina to get up and make their beds. She looks at Molly, Daisy and Gracie and says, “you’ll get used to it.”
At breakfast, the children are shown in a medium shot to be saying their prayers. When Daisy is disgusted at the food, she talks in her native tongue. An Aboriginal warden says, “We have no Wangka here.  You talk English!” as he slams a stick onto the table.
Molly is shown to be scrubbed with a brush by a nun. She is forced to say, “thank you Miss Jessop.”
The girls at the settlement are shown to be sewing. When Gracie talks in her native tongue, the nun says: “We don’t use that Jabba here. You speak English.”
Outside the children sing an English song for Mr Neville. He inspects specific children to see if he can identify the “fairer ones.” Nina says that the fairer ones are “more clever than us, they can go to proper school.”

Molly is inspected and a low-angle shot from Molly’s point of view shows Mr Neville staring down at her. Her breathing is heavy and her walking, shaky. Mr Neville checks her skin and writes down in his notebook. He says: “No” because Molly is not fair enough to be chosen for a better education.

Molly asks Nina: “Those babies, where are their mothers?” Nina replies, “They got no mothers…nobody here got any mothers.”

Molly answers in a close-up shot: “I got mother.”

Olive is shown through a close up shot, sitting in a shed crying with her hair cut.


What is happening to place the characters in a difficult circumstance?

What is the problem?

What conflict/s arise?

Constable Riggs waits until the girls are together outside the Jigalong Depot. He then chases them in his automobile and forcibly removes them from their mothers. A long shot shows his vehicle driving fast into the camp.

A close-up focuses on the vehicle and it breaking the fence.

A camel roars (adding tension to the scene).

Molly’s mother and Auntie are shown (initially in slow motion) trying to grab their girls.

The mother’s yell at the girls in their native tongue. Non-diegetic drum beats are heard, indicating the fast pace of the girls running and the speed of the vehicle.

Molly runs out the front, shown in a tracking shot. An over the shoulder shot shows Constable Riggs pursuing the girls.

All sounds cease when the vehicle stops in front of the women and children. Medium shots show the women grabbing on to the girls. Constable Riggs says,  “Come for the three girls, Maude…It’s the law, Maude. Got no say in it. Neville’s their legal guardian.” She screams, “No! This is my kids. MINE!

A series of close-ups show the girls and the mother’s screaming.

Constable Riggs continues to point to his order (document) from Mr Neville.

A close-up shows Molly’s mother’s hand slapping on the window of the vehicle. Molly’s hand slaps from the inside.

The camera moves to show all three women slapping on the outside of the vehicle.

As the vehicle drives off, the girls hands are shown slapping on the inside of the vehicle.

A final close-up shows the girls staring out the back of the window.

An extreme close-up is shown of Molly’s eye thinking about the horrors of this settlement.

Molly lies in her bed and reviews the situation.

She says, “bad place,” “make me sick.” Flashbacks are shown as if from her mind’s eye: Moodoo walking past, Mr Neville towering over her, Constable Riggs moving towards her with an official document, the nun in front of her. And then Molly pictures the spirit bird over her and imagines her mother holding her in Jigalong.



What do the characters do to survive?

How do they try to get themselves out of this problem/conflict/difficult circumstance?

Molly decides to get herself, her sister and cousin out of Moore River and back to their family at Jigalong.

Molly uses the rain as a means of escape. If the tracker can’t see the tracks, he can’t catch them.

Gracie presents herself as a more hesitant character from the beginning of the journey. She questions Molly and points out potential failings.

Molly uses Daisy’s bag as a decoy. She then makes the girls walk in the river so that there are no tracks.

-The girls stop when they hear Moodoo.

Molly distracts the girls with a game.

Molly connects with Aborigines to get matches, food and directions.

Molly is told to “take the bucket out.” She looks outside and thunder is heard; she realizes that it is going to rain (which would assist to cover their tracks).

She says to Daisy and Gracie: “Come on. Get your things. We’re going. We’re going home to mother.”

Daisy looks concerned in a close up: “How we’re gonna get there?” Molly replies, “Walk.”

Gracie does not want to go. She says, “We like it here” and Daisy is still concerned, “That tracker, he gonna get us an put us in that room.” Molly sternly says: He not gonna get us. We just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.”

Gracie doesn’t follow initially: “too far, Molly” but then runs after the girls outside.

Inspirational music is heard as a long shot shows the girls running into the trees. When it begins to rain, they are shown in a three shot and Molly is laughing. An overhead shot also shows the girls sleeping in the bushland; they look like birds in a nest.

Molly orders Daisy to give her, her bag. Molly places it over reeds in the river. She then says, “In the water, we need to cover our tracks.”  A series of slow-motion close-ups show the girls listening. The girls hide in the reeds until the tracker passes.
Molly keeps the girls walking with a game: “I see an Emu…I see a big kangaroo.”
An Aboriginal man meets the girls. He asks Molly if she knows what she’s doing and she nods. He gives the girls some matches and the end of a kangaroo’s tail. Molly roasts the tail in a fire to feed the girls.
Molly tries to steal eggs from a farm

Molly realizes that the fence will guide them home.

Molly has to carry Daisy.

Molly realizes they have been walking along the wrong fence but continues to walk to find the correct one.

A long shot shows Molly going into a farm’s chicken coup. She eats old bread from the floor and is caught by the farmer’s wife. She pretends to act dumb, looking around aimlessly in a series of medium shots. The woman asks: “Go anyone with you?” but Molly shakes her head.

After the woman feeds the girls and gives them old coats, she says, “Watch out for those boys, they go hunting along the fence.” A medium shot shows Molly’s revelation: “That rabbit proof fence?” The woman indicates that the fence is East. Molly says to the girls “Find that Rabbit Fence, we go home.”

Extreme long shots show the girls walking in the Outback. Inspirational music is heard and a long shot shows Molly looking at the fence from left to right. Daisy yells, “It’s the fence, it’s the fence. She found it!” The girls run in joy towards the fence. An extreme close up shows the girls holding the fence. In Jigalong, this image is mirrored as Molly’s mother holds the fence; signifying their emotional and spiritual attachment to each other.
Daisy can no longer walk: “My legs, Molly, they hurt, I can’t walk. Molly is shown in a medium shot to pick up Daisy and carry her.
The girls meet a man camping along the fence. He tells them, they are on the “number two fence” and there are actually three fences. Gracie states, “We’re on the wrong fence.” The man shows the girls in the sand how they can get on the correct fence: “Cut across here, you save yourself a hundred mile or so.”

Because the girls cut across, they miss the  tracker and a police constable.

The girls meet Mavis- an ex-resident of Moore River who now works as a maid on a farm.

Molly’s compassion for Mavis almost gets the girls caught.

A medium shot shows Mavis staring at the girls as she put out the washing. She explains that she was at Moore River: “Too scared to leave…You’ve got the furtherest…800 miles.”

She tells the girls to stay with her and she will “get you some food.”

A high-angle shot shows Molly take socks from the clothesline.

As the girls wait in Mavis’ room at night time, they hear a man’s footsteps. A close-up shows boots on the ground.  The man takes his boots and trousers off, pulls back the blanket and sees the girls in the bed. A low-angle shot shows the shock on his face. Mavis is outside and she says, “Go away.” The man is angry and leaves. Mavis pleads with the girls to stay, “He come back if you go…He won’t say anything… Please.”

A series of close-ups show Mavis crying and Molly just staring at her (realizing that Mavis is repeatedly molested by the farmer).

As the girls are sleeping, a car’s lights, flash over the room. Molly tells them: you got to get up! The girls run out into the wilderness in a long shot and Molly is shown to cover her tracks with a tree’s branch. The constable states that he and the tracker will pick up the trail in the morning. A final long shot shows Moodoo staring out into the darkness as if he knows the girls are there.

Molly camouflages  their tracks by places socks on their feet and walking on rocks. A close-up shows Molly put the socks on and carry the girls over the rocks to stop their tracks. A point of view shot shows Moodoo following their tracks and a low-angle shot shows his slight smile as he realizes what the girls have done. He indicates to the constable that he does not know where Molly, Daisy and Gracie have gone. As Moodoo is waiting with Riggs on the border of the desert, he says: “She pretty clever that girl. She wants to go home.”
Gracie is tempted to stop walking to Jigalong because of news of her mother.

Molly initially lets Gracie go.

Mr Neville tells the police to spread the word, that Gracie’s mother has gone to Wiluna. When the girls meet an Aboriginal man, he asks, “Which one of you is Gracie? I hear your mummy in Miluna. You can catch a train there from Meeka.” Molly tries to keep the girls going: “Don’t listen to him. He’s a liar.”

Gracie stops walking and says, “Molly, let’s go to Meeka, catch a train to Wiluna.” Molly tries to persuade Gracie: “If they see us, they’ll catch us….We’re nearly there.” Gracie is determined: “But mummy, she at Wiluna.” Daisy tries to drag Gracie but she will not move. A medium shot shows Gracie at decision-point; she lets the girls walk away.

Molly and daisy get bird’s eggs to eat A close-up shows Molly and Daisy getting eggs from a bird’s nest and then eating them in the rain.
Molly is grieved that Gracie has been left behind, so they go to find her. A close-up shows Molly sitting by the fence, looking back to where Gracie has gone. Inspirational music indicate that the situation is difficult for Molly. Finally she says, “Come on Dais. Wev’e gotta go back for Gracie.”
Gracie is captured and Molly grieves. At Meeka, Gracie is shown in a medium shot to be waiting for the train. Molly whistles at her and Gracie stands up; seeing no train, she starts to move towards the girls. Suddenly the roar of a vehicle’s engine is heard. Gracie runs and is shown in slow motion to be cut off by the vehicle so moves in the other direction. The Aboriginal man from the previous scene grabs her and Gracie is taken away. Sad music is heard, as Gracie’s face looks towards the girls out of the back of the vehicle.  A close-up shows Molly’s grief and in a medium shot the two remaining girls hug each other, as Molly cries.
The length of the journey is starting to take its toll on both girls, especially Daisy. When the fence disappears, Molly doesn’t lose hope but presses on. Close-ups of the two girls’ legs with cuts on them are shown. The girls walk in slow-motion to indicate their tiredness. A long shot shows that the fence stops at the beginning of the desert. Daisy stops and says, “No fence.” Molly takes her by the hand and says, “The fence will come back.”
The girls get water from the ground. Close-ups show the girls scooping water from holes that they have scooped out from the ground. They place these into leaves and drink from them.
The girls start to become delirious from dehydration, malnutrition and exhaustion. A slow-motion montage sequence shows the girls walking through the desert. They are thin, stumbling, confused and exhausted. A series of close-ups show the girls’ faces and legs, blur in and out of focus. Finally, they collapse and an overhead shot shows them again to look vulnerable in a fetal position.


Are the characters’ survival techniques/actions successful?

What is the outcome of the character/s situation?

THE OUTCOME- What happens to the character/s?

* Do they survive?

As Molly and Daisy lie in the desert, Molly hears her spirit bird overhead. She knows she is being protected and is not far from home.

All hope of making back to Jigalong and their family, has been restored.

The Aboriginal female community chant as if calling the girls back to them.  Molly’s mother and grandmother force Constable Riggs out of their camp.

The girls and their family re-unite.

The hawk’s cry is heard, then it is seen in

A low angle shot. Extreme close-ups show Molly looking at the sky. And a close-up shows Daisy smiling. Molly looks out and a long shot reveals that the fence has returned. She turns her head and an extreme long shot show mountains that are familiar to her. She says: “Home.”

A medium shot shows the girls in the twilight walking through green bush. Daisy is on Molly’s back and she says: “Molly, that tracker is not gonna get us now.” Molly replies: “Nah, that tracker not gonna get us.” The girls stop and smile because they hear women chanting.
Constable Riggs has been sent to pick up the girls and he is concerned about the chanting: “They’re up to something.” He wanders into the bush in the dark and Molly’s mother and grandmother stand in front of him. Although he has a gun, Molly’s mother points her stick directly at him and both women move forward in a two shot.

An extreme close-up shows Riggs sweating and moving backwards away from the women.

An extreme long high-angle shot (similar to that which was used in the opening of the film) moves across the Jigalong bush. The spirit bird is shown and Molly looks up at it (as she did in the opening), recognizing it as her protector. She whistles and a medium shot shows Molly’s mother and grandmother recognizing the sound. They smile and return the whistle. Molly , Daisy and the two women are shown in slow-motion to run towards each other.  There are large smiles on both parties’ faces.

When Molly reaches her grandmother, she is held; Molly cries, “I lost one. I lost one.”

Molly and Daisy are disguised so they will not be recognized as half-castes. In the darkness of the bush, the women paint the faces of Molly and Daisy, darker so that they will not be recognized as half-castes. The repetition of the hands going over the girls faces and shoulders is also a sign of affection.
A voice over is heard from Molly as an old woman: “We walked for 9 weeks, a long way, all the way home. Then we went straight away and hid in the desert. Got married. I had two baby girls. Then they took me and my kids back to that place. And I walked all the way back to Jigalong again, carrying my little one, Annabelle. When she was three, that Mr Neville took her away. I’ve never seen her again. Gracie is dead now. She never made it back to Jigalong. Daisy and me, we’re living here in our country, Jigalong. We’re never going back to that place.”


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