his own life by hanging himself from a tree. The film suggests that the boy e is overwhelmed by grief after witnessing a buffalo culling. His grief is later ^ exacerbated by the Girl's rejection of his 'marriage proposal' communicated D through a spectacular and highly primitivised dance sequence. His death is ° emblematic of the girl's refusal to submit to her primal urges, to stay lost in D the bush. This idea of Aboriginality is further emphasised in the epilogue where the girl is shown some years later in her ultra-modern urban kitchen daydreaming of idyllic moments shared with the Aboriginal boy. As others, including Pierce and Dermody, suggest, the Aboriginal boy is the true lost child of this film. For in the logic of this narrative, there is no place for Aboriginal people in modernity other than as the subject of a European romantic longing for an ideal primitive past.
Rabbit-Proof Fence succeeds not only in avoiding the kind of primitivism at work in Walkabout but in countering its image of Aboriginal people as the lost children by telling a story of Aboriginal survival and resistance. Despite Neville's efforts to have Molly and the others recaptured, she and Daisy finally return home. 'She will not submit', as Neville puts it. The triumph of their return is encapsulated in the image of Molly emerging from the desert carrying her younger sister in her arms. In this way, again, Rabbit-Proof Fence invokes the lost child films of the past while at the same time bringing something new to the genre. Unlike the tragic ending of Walkabout, where the Aboriginal boy rescues the girl and boy only to take his own life in despair, Rabbit-Proof Fence offers a powerful image of Aboriginal survival of colonial violence and subjugation. In doing so, it inverts two centuries of the representation of Aboriginal people as a doomed or dying race, a group of people who have no place in modernity. More specifically, it reorients the peculiar sense of loss and belatedness associated with the lost child narrative away from settler anxieties of belonging to the post-Mabo issue of how the nation can best face up to the shame of the Stolen Generations.
According to Pierce, stories of lost children have always served as a form of 'communal remembrance', uniting communities in their collective mourning.45 One of the most famous cinematic representations of the lost child is a dramatic re-enactment of a true story in John Heyer's award-winning documentary The Back of Beyond (1955), a poetic exploration of life in the outback seen by large cinema audiences here and overseas. In this re-enactment, two young blonde-haired, fair-skinned sisters set off from their homestead into the blinding heat of the desert to seek help after their g mother unexpectedly dies. The most poignant moment in this depiction of js their story is when the girls cross their own tracks. At this point, the older
" girl, like us, realises that they have been travelling in circles. Not wanting to panic her younger sister, the older girl keeps on walking. Their tiny figures
< trace a line across the desert dunes before they disappear into the distance. 2 The image of Molly emerging from the desert carrying her sister Daisy is a u mirror reversal of the former image. As such, it recovers - in both senses of « the word - a trace of cinematic history for contemporary audiences. And just
< as in the past stories of lost children, such as Heyer's, encouraged collective £ public memory, Rabbit-Proof Fence is a powerful invitation to all Australians
< to remember publicly the Stolen Generations, to 'bring them home'.
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