Rabbit-Proof Fence

I haven’t cried through a movie in a long time but this true story just broke my heart.  Rabbit-Proof Fence is set in Western Australia in the 1930s.  During this time Australian Policy dictated that ‘half-caste’ children needed to be protected from their aboriginal heritage and so they were forcibly removed from their families and relocated in re-education camps where the children could be introduced into ‘proper’ white society and eventually after a few generations the aboriginal would be bred out of them.  This policy stole a whole generation of children.  Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the story of three little girls, Molly, Daisy and Grace, from the town of Jigalong and their life spent running away from the camps.  In the camps, the children are told they don’t have parents anymore but these little girls wanted to be back with their mothers, they wanted their families back.

Although it was only a small part of the film, the hardest parts for me to watch were when the adults in the camp told the girls they no longer could speak their own language.  The littlest one, Daisy, gets excited about new clothes and is told, “This is your new home. We don’t use that jabber here. You speak English.”  Of course the girls did already speak a little English but their first language was a local aboriginal language.  My heart hurt when they were told not to speak to each other in their first language anymore.  For me it is the ultimate denial of who they are as people.  When people loose their language, they loose a part of themselves.

Rabbit-Proof Fence may be a difficult film to watch but it is certainly worth seeing once.  You will fall in love with Molly, Daisy and Grace and be cheering for them to make it home.


A Conversation about The Hunger Games

Until a couple weeks ago, I had never heard of The Hunger Games.  After a few tidbits of conversation, I came away thinking “Children killing each other and starving, that’s not ok.”  But I was interested in why the books and subsequent movie were creating such a buzz.  Now I am not one to chase after trends and if I don’t enjoy something, I don’t feel the need to finish the book or the movie for that matter.  Take The Lord of the Rings books and movies.  I tried reading the books, couldn’t get into them and so I never read the series or took the time to see the movies.  My life is no better or worse because of this choice, it’s just the way it is.

Back to The Hunger Games.  I was a bit confused, not knowing what to make of it all, and so I told myself, and others, that I wouldn’t go see the movie until I had at least read the book.  I ordered the book and a few days later when it arrived, I started reading.  I had no other pressing engagements so I stayed up late and finished the book that night.  It was very easy to read, kept my interest and when I felt like crying for humanity, I could just close my eyes and have a break.  After I finished and closed the book, I had made up my mind.  I was so repulsed and sickened by the whole situation the book presented that I was not going to see the movie or read any more of the books.

But then morning came.  I had slept on it and realized that I was completely of two minds.  On one hand the idea of the Capital opulence and the gameshow was even more interesting and intriguing.  There were lots of very cool things that could be done to portray this world in a visual and striking way.  The story itself also had me somewhat hooked.  I am the type of person who gets to the end of even a short story and wonders what the characters are doing.  So the idea that Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Prim and the world Suzanne Collins created still exists and the story does continue, just makes me want to know more.  However, each time I thought about the meaning, brutality, cruelty, shame, twisted logic and everything else behind the games, I felt sick, repulsed.  It wasn’t even a thought of ‘if people could do this to each other’.  No, people are doing this and it is going on now.  Just having Panem set in North America and drawing parallels to our current world is enough to make my skin crawl.

So now I had read the book, my head was filled with questions and it wasn’t really making sense to me.  That day a friend sent me a text that a group was going to see the movie that night at 8.  I hemmed and hawed and had a long conversation with another friend who had read the book.  And reluctantly I came to the conclusion that I did want to see the movie and that, at the very least, the social message of the movie is something that we should be discussing and engaging with.  I never was able to watch the TV show 24 because for me the whole political thriller thing was a little too close to reality.  Personally, I can’t engage well with terrorist threats, government secrets and general espionage.  But the reality that The Hunger Games presents is on a very different level.  Its cry for humanity is something I can and want to engage with.

Now i’ve seen the movie.  Honestly if I had not read the book, I would have walked out.  I don’t do well with suspense on film so knowing how it ends was very helpful.  Also seeing that the brutality and gore in the movie was taken down a couple notches from some of the scenes written in the book, kept me in my chair.  Albeit, very low and huddled in my chair.

After reading the first book and seeing the movie, I am very disappointed in how popular media are treating the movie.  The main subject of conversation is not about the social statement but instead about the violence.  No, I do not believe that everyone should see this movie and yes, we do all respond differently to violence but we live in a very violent world.  None of the violence portrayed in this movie is anything new.  Our question should not be, “Is this movie too violent?” but instead we should be having conversations about society, justice, truth, war, hunger, poverty and all the other things that are uncomfortable but a part of our current reality.

I keep using the word repulsed because I am very repulsed.  And I know the main reason is because I don’t see us living too far from the fictitious world of Panem and the Capital.   I will be reading the other books, I will most likely see the other movies when they come out and I will be continuing this conversation.  For me this is a conversation worth continuing.