Sorry it took so long

logoI hope you all out there will indulge this very Australian-centric post.Today, after decades of waiting Australia’s indigenous population will finally hear an official apology from the current Australian government for previous Australian governments policies of removing aboriginal children from their families. This was government policy and happened for half a century in Australia and was the leading cause of the degradation of their culture.Unlike some commonwealth and colonised countries, Australia shuns its indigenous peoples and has up until now failed to officially acknowledge the irrevocable damage caused by its governmental policies.Today this is changing. Thank God.poster There has been very few Australian films (full stop, but especially) that have dealt with issues of aboriginality. It would seem. not only do we want them ignored in our “multicultural” society but also in our entertainment. However there is one film that comes to mind, by the skilled and experienced Australian director Phillip Noyce: Rabbit Proof Fence.If you haven’t seen this film I encourage you to see it, depending on where you live it may be hard to find it. There are also several clips of the film on youtube.Last year I wrote a paper for my Australian cinema class about how aboriginality has been shown throughout Australia’s film history. Here is an excerpt:”The media is often a reflection of the dominant attitudes and values of a society; the medium of film is no exception. Through looking at Australian films of the last century we are able learn something of the attitudes that existed towards the indigenous population. Firstly it is important to note that it is only recently, in the last twenty years, that indigenous Australians have taken positions behind the camera. poster Since the 1920’s aboriginals have been in front of camera, blatantly portrayed, almost without exception, as savages. Exploitation of indigenous Australians in film was commonplace, further accentuating the belief of the aboriginal as ‘other’. They were either seen as part of the flora and fauna, mysterious forces to overcome, or ‘sub-hominids’. Racial prejudice continued into the 1970’s, perhaps in a more sophisticated fashion than in earlier days but was manifest in the misrepresentation of history, the aboriginal culture and oversimplifying moral and social issues. Indigenous characters were crafted to add to the stereotyped ideas about the aboriginal people rather than the characters being individuals who were also aboriginal. The use of aboriginals in film was never as protagonist, the aboriginal characters were never designed to be understood by the audiences, they served the function of savage, or noble savage.”…girls with neville“Films exploring indigenous issues in Australia do not come more perfectly realised than Phillip Noyce’s Rabbit Proof Fence. Noyce left Hollywood, where he had established himself as a prominent film director, to return to Australia and direct Christine Olsen’s adaptation of Doris Pilkington Garimare’s text Following the Rabbit Proof Fence. The story concerns three young “half-caste” girls, two sisters and their cousin, Molly, Daisy and Gracie (respectively) who were removed from their mothers in 1931 and taken to Moore River Native Settlement under the order of the chief protector of Western Australia A. O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), 1600 miles from their home in Jigalong. The eldest of the three girls, Molly (played by Everlyn Sampi) convinces her sister and cousin to escape and the three set out on the near impossible journey home. The rabbit-proof fence that stretched from the south of the continent to the north was their guide home. The two sisters made it back to their mother at Jigalong, but Gracie was recaptured and returned to Moore River. the tracker The three girls made their journey with the help of some aboriginals and Europeans along the way, pursued by the police and aboriginal tracker Moodoo played masterfully by David Gulpilil. Noyce says he was attracted to the project because it was an emotional and compelling story, but also because it was a true story and the films central protagonists are alive today. The film concludes with narration from the real Molly, in her native tongue, and footage of Molly and Daisy at Jigalong. The decision to conclude the film in this way was nothing short of inspired. Veteran American film reviewer Roger Ebert revealed that ‘not since the last shots of “Schindler’s List” have I been so overcome with the realization that real people, in recent historical times, had to undergo such inhumanity’. “

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