Films can have a great impact on an individual’s way of thinking by helping to inspire and expand our basic knowledge of the world around us. The effects that films have on society are numerous and two-fold. Some even may have the power to completely change already established stereotypes, mindsets and prejudices. Both ‘The Help’ and ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ explore struggles in relation to people of color, and their struggle for rights, freedoms and justice through various different techniques, methods and symbols.
‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ is the first film to explore the historical process of the Stolen Generation. The film translates the local historical event of the Stolen Generation into a powerful and empathic experience, that challenges preconceived notions of history and its connected beliefs. Powerful imagery and real-life events are used throughout to show the severely damaged relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and more importantly the strive for change. The movie tells a story of benign neglect on the part of white Australians by exhibiting stories from both the Indigenous and white Australians of the time. The filmmakers of this movie were inspired by the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, as the release of said report sparked powerful debates on the forced removal of children and the history surrounding it. There is a strong message resonating throughout the movie that there are always numerous versions of the same history, merely depending on who is recounting the story. Symbolism is also used effectively throughout, with the fence representing the uselessness and advertent cruelty of the policies that the Aboriginals faced. It is a symbol of division, a deep wound through the center of the country. In the film’s final act, the girls encounter a ruined section of the fence. This ultimately represents the adversity that the Aboriginals face due to the Europeans taking over already established land, and the failure of civilization to accept culture, race and individuality.
The movie ‘The Help’ signifies the many ways that racism takes over the lives of black individuals around the world; they perform repetitive and tiring work for racist white families, they are refused of opportunities for development both educationally and professionally, they must limit their speech and overall presence to avoid violence, and they must use separate facilities form the white peoples. Most damaging of all though, is that black people are constantly exposed to signs telling them that they are dirty, lazy, and in all respected far less than those of a white background. ‘The Help’ is distinct in the fact that it not only reveals the many horrors that black people face every day, but it also suggests that there is a possibility to cross the racial divide. In addition to tales of rude and abusive employers, the filmmakers ensure that we hear the stories of maids who have a very close relationship with the white families for whom they work. It's possible, through effort and comprehension, to begin to heal the wounds of racism. We see this through Skeeter’s efforts to assist the black maids in helping them to speak out about their barbaric experiences, and the makers of the film show the development of her blossoming relationship with Minny and Aibileen.
Beyond just transporting viewers into new worlds and fantasies, film has a power that is perhaps beyond that of any other medium, to shed light on an issue. Film has the capacity to change the world. Movies touch hearts, awaken visions, and change the way of seeing things. The films ‘The Help’ and ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ both carry harrowing stories of culture, religion, prejudice and race. The way in which the filmmakers of these movies present these challenges is in such a way to challenge every viewer’s mindset, and make each individual question what they thought they knew. Symbolism, imagery and true historical events are featured in these movies to explore the struggle for rights and freedoms for people of color, and tells the stories of white peoples who were strong enough to stand up for what is right.