Olsen does not say that Molly's story is a story of
the Stolen Generations, possibly because it was too obvious or possibly because
it tends to expose the limits of what we might call the "empathetic collapse"
of Molly's story into her own story.
Empathy is indeed the key premise of a film like Rabbit-Proof Fence . With its origins in late nineteenth-century German idealist aesthetics, empathy ("Einfülung", literally in-feeling, Malgrave and Ikonomou, 22) now generates an optimistic connotative field that reached its public apogee in Bill Clinton's refrain: "I feel your pain". It is reasonable to imagine that most who will see the film would not have had direct experience of being forcibly removed from their parents or having their children forcibly removed from them. In the place of this, the film (like many others) asks its audience to make that imaginative leap. Not all films ask this question explicitly, though the controversial poster for the North American release of Rabbit-Proof Fence does just this, reading: "What if the government kidnapped your daughter?" (Adnum 2002). The poster has been doubly controversial, attracting both right-wing criticism as "sensationalising, misleading and grossly distorting" (Adnum 2002), as well as raising left-wing eyebrows because the central image of Molly carrying Daisy has been digitally removed lost, as it were, in the cultural translation. The problem, of course, is one of a double-audience; a relatively informed domestic audience and a relatively uniformed international audience. (One American reviewer described the film as based on a book by Doris Pilkington and Nugi Garimara.) The solution, on the face of it, is to speak in a universalising language of emotions. This is certainly the line taken consistently in the publicity surrounding the film and is prominent in the reactions and reviews. Noyce describes his experience of reading the script as follows:
Doris Pilkington Garimara 's book, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence (1996), describes the use of the fence in the 1930s by three Indigenous Australian girls to guide their route back home to Jigalong . The girls, taken from their parents in Western Australia as part of the Stolen Generations , escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement where they were being held and walked back to their family at Jigalong by following the rabbit-proof fence. The dramatic film Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) is based on the book. In 2016, Englishwoman Lindsey Cole walked the fence from Moore River Settlement, 1600 km through to Jigalong. She was met by Doris's daughter at the end of the walk and completed the walk in September 2016.