Physical journeys involve the movement of a person from one place to another. They provide opportunities for travellers to extend themselves physically, intellectually and emotionally as they respond to challenges and learn more about the world around them. This concept of physical journeys can be clearly seen in the texts “Rabbit-Proof Fence” by Phillip Noyce and “A Horse with No Name” by America. Both texts use a number of methods and technical features, to represent the journey and the impact of its result.
The film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” tells the story of 3 Aboriginal girls (Molly, Daisy and Gracie) who travel on foot across 1500km of inhospitable Australian outback to be reunited with their family, after being forcibly removed by the Australian government. It has been represented as a physical journey of epic proportions, an act of survival and a quest for freedom, as the girls lead by Molly, overcome various obstacles. Such as surviving without food, water or shelter in the harsh Australian bushland, while navigating their way home via the rabbit-proof fence and cleverly outsmarting their tracker.
The primary setting of the text is the physical landscape of outback Australia over which the girls embark their journey. This landscape is used throughout the film to represent the progression of the girl’s journey through its changing terrain, emphasising the distance they have travelled and the hardships that they have had to face.
Their lack of freedom on the journey is represented visually through the juxtaposition of point of view shots of the landscape through the bars of imprisonment, when they are being sent away. This contrasts the previous scenes where an aerial shot is taken of them roaming freely, in their vast and spacious environment. In effect it symbolises they oppression that they feel and creates an understanding of the importance of the journey to the girls.
The use of other film techniques such as slow motion, the playing of indigenous Australian music and close-up shots of their faces during the girls travels emphasis their physical and emotional displacement as a result of the journey. Also as the film is seen through the eyes of Molly we are aware of the importance of the journey to her through her continuous determination, as well as the impact it has had on her through her gradual deterioration and exhaustion.
The film relies on the conventions of realism to represent the physical journey undertaken. The hardship of the journey is illustrated through a series of images, including a heat haze-where they are dragging their feet through the sand, them digging desperately for water and Molly carrying Daisy, as she cannot continue any longer. This physical journey has resulted in individual learning and growth and an understanding of the world. This is particularly evident through the character of Molly. As a result of this journey, she has discovered many things about herself, her spirituality and her identity, as well as the world she lives in, and her place in it.
In the song “A Horse with No Name” a story is told about a man travelling by himself through the desert on a horse. He is exploring the world, and discovering things about himself and life without the interruptions that society and its people bring.
The theme of physical journey has been reinforced by the consistent rhyming pattern of ABAB throughout the song. As it flows, it progressively reveals his story and reinforces the impact it has had on him.
The concept of physical journey has also been achieved through the choice of words that reveal his inner feelings and motifs. Evidence of this is in the line “in the desert you can remember your name, cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain”. This indicates he is on the search for his identity and to escape from society, which inturn represents the physical journey as a quest for spiritual growth and change.
Throughout the journey the man looks many aspects of nature and life, these have had an impact on him physically due to the harsh climate of the desert and emotionally due to the sadness he feels in the face of death. This is illustrated through the use of figurative language in the lyrics and shows the impact and reality of the journey.
The metaphor “the ocean is a desert with its life underground, and a perfect disguise above” represents and adds depth to the theme of physical journeys resulting in discovery and an understanding of the world.
The extensive use of visual features and imagery such as “the sky with no clouds”, and the “red hot desert sun” coupled with the precise attention to descriptive detail, offers a realism to the experiences on his journey and the impact that this journey has made in his life.
In conclusion, in both “rabbit-proof fence” and “a horse with no name” the concept of physical journeys is represented as a way by which people learn about themselves and discover the world around them, and will often result in spiritual growth.
Courtney from Study Moose
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