Δευτέρα, 28 Μαρτίου 2011

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Είδος: Ταινία
Γλώσσα: English, Aboriginal
Υπότιτλοι: English
Χρονολογία: 2002, Australia
Σκηνοθεσία: Phillip Noyce

Διάρκεια: 94'

A Scathing Attack on Racism, 2 December 2002
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.

"And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep"
- Robert Frost

Set in Western Australia in 1931, Rabbit-Proof Fence, a new film by Australian director Philip Noyce (The Quiet American, Clear and Present Danger), is a scathing attack on the Australian government's "eugenics" policy toward Aboriginal half-castes. Continuing policies begun by the British, the white government in Australia for six decades forcibly removed all half-caste Aborigines from their families "for their own good" and sent them to government camps where they were raised as servants, converted to Christianity, and eventually assimilated into white society.

Based on the 1996 book, "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington Garimara (Molly Kelly's daughter), the film tells the story of three Aboriginal girls, 14-year old Molly Kelley, her 8-year old sister Daisy, and their 10-year old cousin Gracie. It shows their escape from confinement in a government camp for half-castes and their return home across the vast and lonely Australian Outback. It is a simple story of indomitable courage, told with honest emotion. Abducted by police in 1931 from their families at Jigalong, an Aboriginal settlement on the edge of the Little Sandy Desert in northwest Australia, the three girls are sent to the Moore River Native Settlement near Perth. Here the children must endure wretched conditions. Herded into mass dormitories, they are not allowed to speak their native language, are subject to strict discipline, and, if they break the rules, are put into solitary confinement for 14 days.

Followed by the Aborigine tracker, Moodoo (a great performance from David Gulpilil), the girls make their escape. Using a "rabbit-proof fence" as a navigation tool, they walk 1500 miles across the parched Outback to return to Jigalong. The rabbit-proof fence was a strip of barbed-wire netting that cut across half of the continent and was designed to protect farmer's crops by keeping the rabbits away. The girls walked for months on end often without food or drink, not always sure of the direction they are going, using all their ingenuity and intelligence along the way just to survive. The stunning Australian landscape is magnificently photographed by Christopher Doyle, and a haunting score by Peter Gabriel translates natural sounds of birds, animals, wind and rain into music that adds a mystical feeling to the journey.

The performances by amateur actors Evelyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, and Laura Monaghan (who had never seen a film before let alone acted in one) are authentic and heartbreakingly affecting. Though the white officials and police are characterized as smug and unfeeling, they are more like bureaucrats carrying out official policies than true villains. Kenneth Branagh gives a strong but restrained performance as Mr. Neville, the minister in charge of half-castes. Rabbit-Proof Fence is an honest film that avoids sentimentality and lets the courage and natural wisdom of the girls shine through. This is one of the best films I've seen this year and has struck a responsive chord in Australia and all over the world. Hopefully, it will become a vehicle for reconciliation, so that the shame of the "Stolen Generation" can at last be held to account.

Σάββατο, 5 Μαρτίου 2011

The Man From Earth

Είδος: Ταινία
Γλώσσα: English
Υπότιτλοι: Ελληνικά
Χρονολογία: 2007, US
Σκηνοθεσία: Richard Schenkman

Διάρκεια: 87'

A minimalist sci-fi drama.
Author: duggam from Boston, MA

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie when it premiered at the Rhode Island International film festival. It was the main attraction of a sci-fi block that I went to without any knowledge of what the file was about, save the IMDb plot summary. What I saw was much different than what I expected, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The film starts very simply with the main character John packing his truck, and then joined by colleagues of his who have come to wish him farewell. His colleagues, however, cannot help but express how puzzled they are about him leaving, since he has established himself very well as a professor and is well liked. Each time he is asked, John either avoids the question or gives an evasive answer. He eventually responds to them by posing a hypothetical question to the group (which by now have been established as Ph.D.s in fields including anthropology, biology, and history) about what a man would be like if he had lived since prehistoric times and had the appearance of the same age for sixteen-thousand years. This question starts an innocent discussion, but changes in tone as John implies more and more that the situation is not hypothetical. The group all have diverse reactions that become more intense as they pose questions to John regarding the story he has put forth.

One of the producers who was in attendance described the film as a science fiction Twelve Angry Men, and I found that statement to be very apropos. The focus of the story was the interaction of the people in the situation, rather than the situation itself. You will find that as an audience member you are put in a similar position as John's colleagues in thinking about the logistical aspects of living for such a long time and what you would say if a friend came to you with the same story. The writer, the late Jerome Bixby, did this well by presenting people that could analyze the finer points of the hypothetical situation by being experts in many relevant fields. I highly recommend this film if you enjoy the more human side of science fiction, or if you like pondering what-ifs.

Due to "technical" reasons
Ελληνικοί Υπότιτλοι

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