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Part 1 Rabbit Proof Fence Wide Reading and Textual Resources
Part 2 Rabbit Proof Fence Film Review
Framing defines the image through the use of various shot types, for example:
• wide shots are often used to establish location and time
• close-ups are used to show detail and facial expressions.
In Rabbit-Proof Fence, Molly’s eyes fill the entire screen as she recovers
consciousness on the salt plain. The film is framed this way to alert the viewer to the
fact that Molly is literally waking up, and that her eyes are fixed first on the spirit bird and then on her destination.
Setting and props provide a context for viewers. The physical and cultural setting of a film situates the viewer in a particular time and place. Similarly, props provide the viewer with cues and clues about a character or a particular time and place. The inclusion of archival footage of Perth in 1931 helps to create a sense of time and place in Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Lighting creates atmosphere. Back lighting creates a halo effect. Front lighting eliminates
shadows, giving a flat look to images. Side lighting sculpts the characters’ features and gives shape to objects. Mood and atmosphere are created by these choices, which can be heightened by the use of colour filters.
For example, the lighting at the end of Rabbit-Proof Fence, when Riggs goes to find out what the noise is about, is very dark. He is stumbling in the dark and it is obvious to us that he feels very vulnerable in the dark. The lighting helps to create a sense of disorientation for Riggs.
Costumes and make-up give the audience visual cues or information about characters’
background and status. For example, the white starched uniforms of the matrons at Moore River are almost like straitjackets. They are prim and proper and clean and part of the ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ ethos that is being imparted to the children.
Camera angle – the position of the camera in relation to the subject establishes a point of view. The perspective provided by the camera establishes a relationship between the viewer and
the screen and invites the viewer to identify with particular characters.
Horizontal angles suggest a degree of involvement. A character presented from a frontal angle appears as part of our world. The scenes with the fencer, just prior to the abduction scene in Rabbit-Proof Fence, are like this. The camera suggests that the girls and the fencer have an equal
Vertical angles suggest a power relationship. A character or object seen from a high angle can seem vulnerable or powerless. On the other hand, a character or object presented from a low angle can appear strong and powerful or even frightening. Eye level suggests an equal relationship. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, Constable Riggs is filmed sitting on his horse, from a low angle, suggesting that he has power. Near the end of the film, there is a shot of Molly from a great height, suggesting that she is extremely vulnerable and that the spirit bird is her powerful protector.
In Rabbit-Proof Fence, effective editing provides the viewer with a number of points of view when the girls are being removed from their family. Editing is also used to compress time, given that events take place over many weeks.
Common Editing Transitions
Fade – a shot gradually darkens as the screen goes black or dark, or the screen gradually brightens as a shot appears.
Wipe – a transition shot in which a line moves across the screen covering the first shot and revealing the next one.
Dissolve – a transition between shots in which the second shot gradually appears as a
superimposition while the first image gradually disappears.
The soundtrack can be composed using any combination of sound effects, which are often recorded separately: dialogue, which is recorded during filming; music; and silence.
Filmmakers use dialogue, sound effects, music and silence to develop the narrative, evoking an emotional response in the audience. Films demonstrate the power of the soundtrack to evoke emotional responses and also to create images in the viewer’s imagination. A film’s soundtrack can
provide an interpretation of what is being shown visually, or it can conflict with or undermine what is being shown on the screen.