Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) - full transcript

Western Australia, 1931. Government policy includes taking half-caste children from their Aboriginal mothers and sending them a thousand miles away to what amounts to indentured servitude, "to save them from themselves." Molly, Daisy, and Grace (two sisters and a cousin who are 14, 10, and 8) arrive at their Gulag and promptly escape, under Molly's lead. For days they walk north, following a fence that keeps rabbits from settlements, eluding a native tracker and the regional constabulary. Their pursuers take orders from the government's "chief protector of Aborigines," A.O. Neville, blinded by Anglo-Christian certainty, evolutionary world view and conventional wisdom. Can the girls survive?

- That's them.
- Yeah.

Molly's the big one. The
little one's her sister, Daisy.

The middle one's
their cousin, Gracie.

- What about the fathers?
- Moved on.

- I catch 'em goanna.
- Molly got goanna!

Bring it here.

The next batch.
Nothing out of the ordinary.

There's two applications
for Section 63 exemptions.

The police reports are there.

William Harris is applying
for permission to marry.

She's half-caste also.

And Mary Wilson
is applying for permission

to visit her child
at Moore River.

She's quite agitated.

Oh, and Gladys Phillips
has written

for permission to buy
some new shoes.

She had a new pair a year ago.

Now, this report
from Constable Riggs

about the three little
half-caste girls

at the Jigalong Fence Depot-
Molly, Gracie and Daisy.

The youngest is of
particular concern.

She's promised to a full-blood.

I'm authorising their removal.

They're to be taken to
Moore River as soon as possible.

Oh, and, Miss Thomas -
if you could check

that the rate for
police transportation

is still, I believe,
eight pence per mile.

- Yes, Mr Neville.
- Thank you.

That country over there,
that's woman country.

You can't go there.
You get big trouble.

Yeah, I know.

- Where your country?
- My country?

Down south. Long way from here.

Our dad works there
on the rabbit fence.


How far does rabbit fence go to?

The rabbit-proof fence?

It goes all the way to the sea
down that way.

Right to the top of Australia.

Longest fence in the world.

And all the way to the sea
down that way.

1,500 miles long.

Keeps the rabbits
on that side of the fence,

keeps the farmland
on this side of the fence.

That Molly's getting to be
a big girl.

Mr Neville's been writing to me
about those girls, you know.


Come on, it's your turn.

Come and get your rations.

Hurry up.

- Run!
- Gracie!

You go, Molly!

I've come for the three girls,

No! No, these my kids! Mine!

It's the law, Maude.

- You've got no say in it.
- No! Mine!

Mr Neville's orders.

Now, listen. Move one inch
and I will lock your mother up!

He's their legal guardian.

Get away from us! No! No!



Give me back my kids!

You sit up
and you stay!

- I got the papers, Maude.
- Don't take them!

You got no say in it!

Get in the car!

Now, the three of youse,
don't move.

There's nothing you can do here,
old girl.

- Nothing you can do.
- Leave them!

Leave them!

As you know, every
Aborigine born in this state

comes under my control.

Notice, if you will,
the half-caste child-

and there are ever-increasing
numbers of them,

Now, what is to happen to them?

Are we to allow the creation
of an unwanted third race?

Should the coloureds
be encouraged

to go back to the black

or should they be advanced
to white status

and be absorbed
in the white population?

Now, time and again
I'm asked by some white man,

"If I marry this
coloured person,

"will our children be black?“

And as Chief Protector
of Aborigines

it is my responsibility

to accept or reject
those marriages.

Here...is the answer.

Three generations.

Half-blood grandmother,

quadroon daughter,
octoroon grandson.

Now, as you can see,

in the third generation,
or third cross,

no trace of native origin
is apparent.

The continuing infiltration
of white blood

finally stamps out
the black colour.

The Aboriginal
has simply been...

...bred out.


...we come to...

We come to the Moore River
Native Settlement.

Ladies, most of you are
familiar with our work here,

the training of domestic
servants and farm labourers.

I would like to thank you
for your continuing support.

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 fit and train
such children for the future

they cannot be left
as they are,

and, in spite of himself,
the native must be helped.

Hello there.

A ghost!

You poor dears.

It's such a long way.
You must be exhausted.

Come along. I'll take you
straight to the dormitory.

Quickly. It's alright.

Come on. Down you hop.

Come along.

Follow me. Come along.

Follow me, please.

That's the way.

Come along.

There's some beds there.
The buckefs in the comer.

Hurry UP-

Where youse from?

Are youse from Broome?

Are you from Wiluna?

Back to sleep,
the rest of you. No talking.

Get up!
All of youse, make your beds.

Hurry UP-

Karen, Cheryl,
stop running around.

Get them blankets tidy.

What's your name?
Where you from?

You'll get used to it.

Tracker girl, get that bucket.
Take it out now!

What are you standing there
dreaming about? Hurry up!


Get out to breakfast now.
Come on.

Get going, all of you.

Come on. You coming?

Thank you, children.
Ready for our prayers.

Bow your heads. Eyes closed.

Thank you
for the food we eat.

Thank you for
the world so sweet.

Thank you for
the birds that sing.

Thank you, God,
for everything.

There will be no talking.

We'll have no wangka here.
You talk English!

Now, eat!

Eat or I'll hold your nose
and force it down you!


Keep still.
We've got to scrub you.

Let me see.

Doesn't that feel better?

- Yes, Miss Jessop!
- Yes, Miss Jessop.

- Thank you, Miss Jessop!
- Thank you, Miss Jessop.

That feels much better.


Take it.

Put these on.

Come on. Get dressed.

This is your new home.

We don't use that jabber here.

You speak English.

♪ Way down
upon the Swanee River

♪ Far, far away

♪ There's where my heart
is turning ever

I There's where
the old folks stay... I

What are they doing?

Singing Mr Devil's
favourite song.

- Huh? -Singing Mr Devil's
favourite song.

- Who's that?
- One on the end, on that chair.

♪ Still longing for
the old plantation

♪ And for the old folks
at home. I

Very good. Well done.

The following children will
come forward. Tommy Grant.

This way, Tommy. Here.

Come on.
Stand up straight.

- Whoa. Whoa, boy.
- Tommy.

What are they doing now?

They're checking for
the fairer ones.


They're gonna take them
to Sister Kate's.

They're more clever than us.

They can go to proper school.

Thank you. No.

There you go. Good boy.

Molly Craig!

That you?

- Molly Craig!
- Go on, get up.

Hurry up. They'll whip you.

Molly. Come on, dear.

- Get up. Quick.
- Come on, young lady.

They'll put you in the boob.
Hurry up.

Come on.

Just Molly, please.

Where you going? Come back here.

- Sit down.
- Hurry up.

Come along.

It's alright.

That's the way.

Don't be afraid.

Come along.

Come on,
I'm not gonna hurt you.


Bit further.

That's it.

It's Molly, isn't it?

I know it all feels
very strange,

but after a few days
you'll feel quite at home.

We're here to help and encourage
you in this new world.

Duty, service, responsibility-

those are our watchwords.

- Molly, keep still.
- It's alright. It's alright.

It's alright.


Over here.
Sweep it over here.

To the door.

Come on, this way.

Push it towards me.

Hey, Hacker's come back.

Hey, tracker girl.

Your dad's bringing Olive back.
He catched her.

Thank you, Moodoo.

Stand there, young lady.

Did you really think
you'd get away with it?

Now, stop that crying.

You see what Miss Doyle has
here? Olive, look at me.

You see this here? The scissors?

Did she run away home?

She ran away
to see her boyfriend.

You should have thought
about this beforehand.

Come on.

We'll see if those boys
at New Norcia

find you so attractive now, eh?

In you 9°-

She broke out through here.

Usual story. Off to see
her boyfriend at New Norcia.

- The tracker brought her back.
- Ah, yes, Moodoo.

Mr Neal tells me that
your probation period is up

and that you wish to return to
the Kimberleys - is that right?

Of course, your daughter
is here, isn't she?

There would be
no question of her going.

She would have to stay here
and continue her training.

I think for the time being it
would be best for all concerned

if you were to remain here,

I'd be prepared to consider your
case in a year or so, but...

...until then...

Now, about those
little ones from Kalgoorlie.

Those babies.
Where are their mothers?

They got no mothers.

Nobody here got any mothers.

I got mother.

Come on, they're lining up.
Let's go.

Bad place.

Make me sick.

These people...


Make me sick.

Come on, make your beds.

Nice and tidy.

If you've already done it,
get to the church now.

Hurry up. Stop dawdling.

Molly, take the bucket out,

then the three of you
go to the church.

Come on, you kids,
get up there! You're late.

Hurry up!

Get up here, now!

Come on.
Get your things. We're going.

Where are we going?

We're going home. To Mother.

How we gonna get there?


We're not going, are we, Daisy?

We like it here.

That tracker, he's gonna get us
and put us...

He's not gonna get us
and put us in the boob.

We just keep walking.
The rain will cover our tracks.

We've gotta go now.

Come on. Quick.

Come on.

Come on, Gracie. Now.

- Too far, Molly.
- Hurry up!

♪ He made their tiny wings

♪ All things
bright and beautiful

♪ All creatures
great and small... I

Come on. Let's go!

-Irene Clark.
- Here.

- Ellie Moodoo.
- Here.

Molly Craig.

Molly Craig.

Molly Craig.

Gracie Fields.

Daisy Kadibil.

Nina, have you seen
the new girls?

Haven't seen them all day, Miss.

Mister! Mr Neville said
you'd better come real quick.

That's two days ago,
Mr Neal.

Yes, I understand, but I require
to be kept fully informed.

Thank you. Goodbye.

Those three girls.
They've run off.

Oh, dear.

It'll be the older one.

I wondered when I saw her.

Too much of their mind...


The trackefs onto it.

In the meantime, it must
be kept out of the papers.

No rain. Tracker gonna get us.

Tracker's not gonna gel us!

Come on.

We've gotta keep going.

Come on, Gracie.

Daisy, give me your bag.

Give us your bag, quick.

Give us it!

Hurry up. In the water,
in the water!

We need to go fast.

Shh. Shh. Shh.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

I see...

...big emu.

Nah, nothing there.

I see...big kangaroo.
Red one.


I don't see nothing.
There's no food here.

- I see...
- We don't know this place.

- How we gonna eat?
- Shh!


Quick, hide. Come on.

Ask them, Molly.
Ask them for something to eat.

You're from that
Moore River place, eh?

We're going home.

Where your country?

- Jigalong.
- Jigalong?

Proper long way.

You know what you're doing?

That tracker from Moore River.

He Pretty good-.

I heard he get them runaways
all the time.

Gotta be good to beat him.

He take you back to that place.


You watch out for him, eh?

You think you're so smart.

Where are we?

We're lost.

Jigalong that way. North.

Tracker followed them
to...this riverbank,

but lost their tracks
in the water about a week ago.

There's been
no sign of them since.

Three little half-castes.

We're talking quite a few
man-hours here.

Who's going to pay for it?

There's very little money
in my departmental budget.

I'm hoping that if your men
can in some way

combine this with
their regular duties...

We'll be able to handle
all the notifications,

posting all police stations,
farms, etc.

We'll provide a description.

But if my men have to make trips
outside of their duties

then I'm afraid it'll have to be
an impost on your department.

If they are out on other jobs
at the same time,

there would be no extra expense.

I'll concede that, Mr Neville.

And it is the job of
every one of your men

in their role
as local protectors.

My men will do their jobs,
Mr Neville.

- Now, a week ago, you said.
- Yes.

Hey, Maude.
Your girls have gone.

Whafd you say?

They've run away from
Moore River. They're gone.

Everybody's looking for 'em.

And what do you think
you might be up to?

Thieving my eggs, eh?

You come out here
where I can see you. Come on.

Stand up. Out you come.

And get rid of that bread.
It's filthy.

You want something to eat,
you ask for it.

Come on.
I'm not gonna bite you.

You're on your own?


Got anyone with you?

Here you are, Father.

Where you girls
planning on going?

Cat got your tongue, eh?

Now get. Go on.

And watch out for those boys
further along.

They go out hunting rabbits
along the fence.

- That rabbit-proof fence?
- Yes, the rabbit-proof fence.

- Where that rabbit fence?
- East.

Which way now?

That way. That fence.

Find that rabbit fence,
we go home.

Then we see our mum.

"The Chief Protector of
Aborigines, MrA.O. Neville..."


"..Is concerned about
three native girls,

"ranging from
8 to 14 years of age,

"who a month ago ran away from

"the Moore River
Native Settlement.“


"He would be grateful
if any person who saw them

"would notify him...promptly.

“We have been searching
high and low for the children

"'for a month past,'
added Mr Neville...“


...'"and all the trace we found
of them was a dead rabbit.“

It's the fence,
ifs the fence! She found it!

The latest sighting,

which is four days old,
has them...

- The man from the newspaper.
- Nothing more to say to him.

Please, may I have a look?

Now, Albany, yes?

Bunnawarra. Yalgoo...



Dalwallinu, Bunnawarra, Yalgoo.

They're on the fence.

They're following
the rabbit-proof fence.


Just because a people
use Neolithic tools, Inspector,

does not mean they have
Neolithic minds.

This makes our task
very much easier. Look.

There's a branch off here
to the west, north of Yalgoo.

Now, you put your man out here

on the fence
north of thisjunction.

He can start to come down it
to meet them,

while our Moodoo comes up
from the south behind them.

We can't miss them.

Where Daisy?

Wait here.

My legs, Molly.

They hurt. I can't walk.

I'm carrying you only once,

Come on. Come on...

Don't think I'm carrying you
all the way.

Camp, Molly!


Where you girls headed?

You going to Mullewa?

You got family there?

Where Mullewa?

Mullewa? West.

The way you're headed,
along the number two fence.

They got two rabbit-proof fence?

My oath. They got three of 'em.

We're on the wrong fence.

Where that north fence?

North fence? Back that way-
where you come from.

You can cut across.
I'll show you.

Number one rabbit fence.
Here's the number two fence.

Now you're here.

But you wanna be here.

Now, if you cut across here,

you save yourself
a hundred mile or so.

It's not hard.

I'm going back.
I don't have the petrol.

Over here.

And we're hungry.

Youse that lot from Moore River?


What, you girls
walk all that way?


800 miles?

I was there.

Too scared to run away, but.

Everyone was always caught,
stuck in that boob.

Youse got the furtherest.
Where you heading?



Stay here.
I'll come back and get you.

You can sleep with me tonight.
I'll get you some food.

Just getting
the washing, Mrs Evans!

Shh. What's that?

Someone coming.

Quick, in the bed.
Under the blankets.

What are you playing at, Mavis?

- Mr Evans.
- I'll get you for this.

- Go away.
- Don't you worry about that!

Come on, quick. Get up.
Get up. Come on.


Don't go, Molly.

Please don't go.

He come back if you go.

Don't go.

He won't say anything.


- Hello, Evans.
- Hello.

Quick, wake up!
Wake up! Gotta go.

Let's have a look.

Run that way
and just keep going.

They were running out
over there.

About an hour or so ago.

We'll pick up their tracks
in the morning.

I'll make
a cup of tea.

That's the tracker.

Yeah, that's him.

Hop on.

I do not expect you
to understand

what I am trying to do
for these people,

but I will not have my plans
put into jeopardy.

People fail to understand that

the problem of half-castes
is not simply going to go away.

If it is not dealt with now, ii
will fester for years to come.

These children are that problem.

Please explain
exactly what happened.

I don't know how they did it,
but we lost them.

I had Larsen out there.
Moodoo was with him.

And we lost them. They're
making right fools of us.

They are indeed, Inspector,

and the cost is more than
to just our pride.

This department's reputation
is beginning to suffer.

I can assure you that
my men have better things to do

than chase your charges
all around the country.

Now...they're coming into
very rough terrain.

Once they're much past

I can't risk any of my men.

I agree - we must find them

before they get into
the real desert country.

So this is what
we're going to do.

You get your man out there.
Moodoo can join him.

Well up the fence,
around here, mmm?

Far enough up so that we know
we cannot possibly miss them.

And I want them to stay there.

They can set up camp and wait.


We'll just have to bear it.

Their lives may be at stake.

And, Inspector, I understand

the mother of one of the girls
has gone to Wiluna.

The children are headed
into that country.

I want the word spread.

Let's see what that does.

You wouldn't
get me out there.

She's pretty clever, that girl.

She wants to go home.

Good thing
you kids ran into me.

Lot of people worried for you.

The police are up and down
the country looking for youse.

It's in all the papers.

Which one of you's Gracie?

You Gracie?

I hear your mummy in Wiluna.

You can catch a train there
from Meeka.

Come on. Let's go.

- Wiluna. She at Wiluna?
- Yes.

Come on, Gracie.

Don't listen to him.
He's a liar.

she's there, Molly.

Maybe he telling the truth.


Let's go to Meeka,
catch a train to Wiluna.

They see us, they'll catch us.

We can't stop now.
Must keep going.

We're nearly there.

But Molly...Mummy there.

She at Wiluna.

I want Mummy.

Come on.

Come on, Daisy.

Come on, Daisy.

You have to carry me, Molly.

Hop on.

She's not coming.

Don't look back.
Don't look back, She'll come.


You got 'em?

One for you, one for me...

And one for both of us.


Come on, um.
We goth go back for Grade.


What are you gonna do,
sell the beast or what'?

- I've got her.
- I wanna get the train to Mummy!

This one's mummy's here.


Oi! Grab her!


Thanks, Jackie.

There'll be a shilling for you
back at the station.

Taking you back
where you belong.

She gone, Molly.
She not coming back.

Needle in a haystack.

That's n.

Pack your stuff!
We're getting out of here.

They're only paying us
for three weeks.

"To Constable Riggs,
police station, Nullagine.

"The two missing half-caste
girls Molly and Daisy

"are returning to Jigalong
via the rabbit-proof fence,

"our efforts to apprehend them
thus far having come to nought.

"I therefore expect them
to arrive in Jigalong

"in about a month's time.

“In your capacity
as local protector

"you are to proceed to Jigalong
to await their arrival

"and effect their recapture."

Yours, etc.

No fence.

I want Mother.

That fence'll come back.


It's coming through now.

"Riggs arrived Jigalong.

"Awaits your instructions.“

Yes, there will be a reply.
Please wait.

"Girls to be sent south
via Meekatharra.

"To be accompanied
at all times.

"Awaiting notification."

What's all that about?

Just some women's business.

Been going on all day.

"Hey. Molly?

That tracker.
He not gonna get us now.

No, he not gonna get us.

I'm not gonna stay here.
I can feel it.

They're up to something.

I'm gonna go take a look.

I lost one.

- What?
- I lost one.

"To Constable Riggs,
police station, Nullagine.

“At present we lack
the funds to pursue

"the missing half-caste girls
Molly and Daisy.

"I would ask to be kept informed
of their whereabouts

"so that at some future date
they may indeed be...recovered.

"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.“

Yours, etc.

Thank you.