Victims or Perpetrators: Aboriginality as Represented in the films "Rabbit Proof Fence" and "The Tracker"
The film Rabbit Proof Fence begins with a history lesson. It is 1931 and the British have finally succeeded in colonizing Australia after 100 years of fighting with the natives. One man has been appointed the task of overseeing the welfare of the Aborigines, and he has the particular ability to remove half-caste children from their homes. This man is A.O. Neville “guardian of all Aborigines”, played by Kenneth Branagh and he has an agenda. Early in the movie when he is giving a slide show presentation, he talks about having the “Aboriginal bred out” of people in 3 generations. This is a revealing scene where we learn that the true intent of the white settlers is to westernize, civilize, indoctrinate, and assimilate the Aboriginals into their society. However, Neville soon discovers that the Aboriginal Spirit is not so easily subverted. Molly, Gracie and Daisy are the three young protagonists who attempt to escape Neville’s snares. They are abducted by white policemen and taken to a school for “re-education”. We can see immediately that Molly is not content at the school. She just doesn’t seem to belong here. In the scene where there is a conversation between the head girl at school, Nina, and Molly we hear Nina say that “nobody here got a mother”. This is countered by Molly who proclaims that “I got mother”. Girls who try to escape the school are captured and returned by Moodoo the Aboriginal tracker man. So far, no girl has gotten very far away from the school before being returned. But there is something special about Molly. As Neville says, there is still "too much of their mind in her".
At the beginning of the film, Molly is shown the "spirit bird" by her mother Maude. Her mother tells her that the spirit bird is always looking out for her. This winged guardian makes several more appearances in the movie. The first of which is when Molly is at the school lying in bed, trying to figure out what is to be done. She says that the white people "make me sick", and she dreams of the spirit bird flying overhead. In the next scene she is shown escaping the school ground with her two friends. As they trek across the outback, one theme that is repeatedly presented is the beneficence of nature upon the oppressed children. The movie shows how the Aboriginals strongly identify with the land, the animals, and all of nature. It seems that Molly shares common traits with the spirit bird. When she whistles, she makes the same sound as the bird's cry. Molly looks out for her