Rabbit Proof Fence Analysis

How does Noyce position the reader to sympathise with the three protagonists? Throughout Rabbit-Proof Fence, Noyce encourages the viewer to understand and imaginatively experience the story through the feelings of the children. The narrative structure, visual symbolism, camera angles, music, characterisation and use and absence of language are techniques that Noyce uses to position the reader to sympathise with the three protagonists. In the scene in which the children arrive at the Moore River Settlement, Noyce shows what happens in a way in which the viewer empathises with the children’s feelings of fear and alienation.

In the scene in which the children find and grasp the fence as a known way home, the viewer shares the desperate hope of both the children and their mother. In the final scene in which Maude and the Maude’s mother confront Constable Riggs, Noyce has firmly positioned the reader to identify and sympathise with the Maude and the Indigenous culture. Noyce uses specific techniques to position the reader to identify with the three protagonists who are depicted as young, innocent and powerless victims of indifferent colonial settlers.

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In Rabbit-Proof Fence the children and also the reader learn to trust what is seen rather than what is said. The film is intensely visual and visual symbols guide the viewer. The beauty and power of the land and the children’s joyous relationship with country and family is powerfully shown at the start of the film. When the children arrive at Moore River Settlement, the Nun’s words are seemingly reassuring when she quotes “Hello dears, you poor things, such a long way you must be exhausted. However the reality of the mission is shown in the rigid layout of buildings, the overcrowded rooms, the shared bucket for toileting and the uniform dress. When the children witness the punishment of a child who has tried to escape, they learn to trust what they see rather than the Christian platitudes that they hear from their captors. In the scene in which the children reach the fence the power of this visual symbol is immediately apparent to the children and the reader. The visual symbolism of the fence has a dual pull by representing a barrier but also, ironically, a guide to home.

The mother’s hand on the fence is directly linked and felt by the children. The eagle acts as another symbol of Molly’s freedom, evident in the final scene when gun faces spear but the eagle triumphs and Molly returns. Camera angles are a key way in which Noyce positions the reader to sympathise with the protagonists. Often Molly is shown from a low camera angle looking up to the young woman to empathise her power and dignity. When the children arrive at Moore River Settlement the Nun’s condescending welcome is shown from a camera angle showing the perspective of the child.

The Nun is grotesque and threatening to the children and the viewer is drawn into this emotional perspective. Similarly at the fence, the camera angle moves into close up and slow motion moving between the hands of the child and the hands of the mother, the face of the children and the face of the mother. The camera angle involves the reader in the intense emotional connection between mother and child. In the final scene the darkness and close camera angles draw the reader into this key scene in which natural justice prevails.

The alienation of the children in a mission environment is recalled in this scene in which Constable Riggs flails in the Indigenous scrubland of this country. Throughout the film camera angles immerse the viewer in the trauma of the action and always from the children’s perspective. In all the scenes music is key in creating mood and atmosphere. The powerful soundtrack by Peter Gabriel blends Aboriginal instruments with more familiar western sounds to highlight the drama and emotion.

It is the sound of Indigenous instruments that encourage the reader to experience the story from an Indigenous point of view. When the children arrive at the settlement, Noyce uses a non-diegetic eerie drone to convey a sense of fear and threat to the reader. By doing this, the reader feels scared for the children and feels sympathy towards them. Non-diegetic sound is also used when the three protagonists finally reach the fence. However this time there is more of a harmonic tone with vibrant rhythmic drums, which gives the reader a sense of hope for the children.

In the final scene of the film where Maude and Molly’s Grandmother stand off against Constable Riggs, there is partly diegetic sound of aboriginal ceremonial chants but also the non-diegetic sounds of harmonic tones. The use of the combining western and native sound effects reinforces the stand off of cultures and the contradicting sounds create a frighting and thrilling mood. As the aboriginal chants grows stronger, the reader feels obliged to sympathise with Maude and is relieved as the fear in Constable Riggs confirms the power of the aboriginal culture.

Throughout the film Noyce uses the power of music and sound effects to position the reader to sympathise with the three protagonists. Dialogue in the film comes mainly from scenes that feature the brutality of government policy and its implementation. When the children arrive at the Moore River Settlement they are forbidden from using their own language. When a child reads aloud from a newspaper, her slow broken command of written English, emphasises the alienation of these children.

This contrasts with the articulate white colonists and the Aboriginal children quickly learn to trust what they see with their eyes rather than hear from the white colonists. The scene where the children reach the rabbit proof fence is without words. Again emotion is communicated to the reader through the powerful visual patterning or mother and child linked by the fence. In the final scene and the final confrontation between spear and gun, words are not exchanged, the fierce eyes of the mother and the fear in the eyes of the man say more that words allow.

Throughout Rabbit Proof Fence, Noyce guides the reader to sympathise with the children. He does this through the powerful language of emotion, by using visual symbols, camera angle, music and non-verbal communication. The evils of assimilation, of the cruelty of removal of children and the callus way in which the missions stripped Aboriginal people of identity, family and culture are powerfully communicated by Noyce in Rabbit-Proof Fence by always encouraging the reader to experience the story from the children’s point of view. This is the power and the meaning of this film.

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Rabbit Proof Fence Analysis. (2017, Feb 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/rabbit-proof-fence/