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Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)
"Wo die grünen Ameisen träumen" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  8 February 1985 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,166 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 9 critic

The geologist Lance Hackett is employed by an Australian mining company to map the subsoil of a desert area covered with ant hills prior to a possible uranium extraction. His work is ... See full summary »

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Title: Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lance Hackett
Wandjuk Marika ...
Miliritbi
Roy Marika ...
Dayipu
...
Cole
Norman Kaye ...
Baldwin Ferguson
Ralph Cotterill ...
Fletcher
Nick Lathouris ...
Arnold
Basil Clarke ...
Judge Blackburn
Ray Marshall ...
Solicitor General Coulthard
Dhungala I. Makika
Gary Williams ...
Watson
Tony Llewellyn-Jones ...
Fitzsimmons
Robert Brissenden
Michael Edols ...
Young attorney
Bob Ellis ...
Supermarket manager
Edit

Storyline

The geologist Lance Hackett is employed by an Australian mining company to map the subsoil of a desert area covered with ant hills prior to a possible uranium extraction. His work is impeded by some aborigines who explain that this is the place where the green ants dream. Disturbing their dreaming will destroy humanity they claim. Hackett informs the company which offers various "solutions" such as a large amount of money or a percentage of a possible revenue. Invited on a trip to a city some of the aborigines sees a military aeroplane and express the wish to own it. The company buys it and gives it to the aborigines as a sign of good will. A runway is made in the desert and the plane is flown to the location. All negotiations concerning the area fail and the dispute goes to a court of the Commonwealth. Parties and experts are heard, obstacles are met such as an aborigine who is the sole survivor of his tribe (and language) and therefore no-one understands what he is saying. Two of ... Written by Frank Dabelstein <frank@dabelstein.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ant | plane | mining | desert | green ant | See All (54) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

8 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Where the Green Ants Dream  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The whole story of the green ants was made up by Werner Herzog, it's not a part of genuine Aboriginal folklore. However the courtroom incident where a secret artifact is revealed, to the bemusement of the judge, is based on a real incident. See more »

Quotes

Lance Hackett: The situation, your Honor, is this man is the the sacred custodian to the secrets of this tribe. And his tribe has died out. He is the sole and final survivor of his people, his clan. They call him the mute, because there is nobody left on this earth for him to speak with.
See more »


Soundtracks

Voice in the wilderness
Written by Ernest Bloch
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User Reviews

Interrupted REM
20 December 2008 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Herzog is a simple man, easy to read. Hearing him talk of his films, one gets bored easily.

His films are simply conceived, like Lynch's, but once he gets rolling, his intuitions take him to strange, exotic corners of the soul. There he leaves traces that last. I love the man's work, much of it. I love the fact that he really seems to be driven by urges that seem to accidentally result in something that can cross the distribution divide to reach me. This is no small feat; the films I watch that have ideas and matter are what — maybe a millionth, a billionth? of the similarly deep insights and artifacts that would have similar effect in me, but which cannot cross that divide.

When I watch his work, some of which I reserve for the future, it is a dip into the film of Herzog. Failures add to this. Risks that did not pan out for him, do for me.

This film has some heavy disadvantages. He is in Australia and he simply does not understand that to photograph the land the way it affects its inhabitants, you have to photograph nothing. Nothing is what matters. But he gives us a tornado. Its beautiful and violent — it even fits the story. He gives us unrelenting piles of boring waste. This too is effective in the film, but not of the place.

He misses both the place and he people. He does give us beautiful Aboriginal faces. He does celebrate them. But its from a deeply disturbing patriarchal, colonial perspective. There is some of this in his Peruvian adventures, but it is hidden in his respect for the Jungle. The natives are simply part of the terrain. He cannot do that here. This also suffers in that he felt it necessary to have an on-screen observer who "learns" the value of the place and turns from heading the mining effort to living with the people.

The result is that the film is overt in its sentiments, but everything works against its honesty. We are left with having to accept it locally, each scene as a sort of standalone taste: black patient faces staring out of pilot seats in an airplane given to them; a man on a witness stand testifying in a language no other soul on the planet understands; an old biddy waiting in the sun at a mine opening on the of chance that her beloved doggie will reappear; that tornado; the (overearnest) story of the sleeping green ants whose dreams we are.

This has value in those small pieces, pretty much throughout. But in the large, taken the way he intends it, its just a colonial German peering into a quaint culture as an ordinary tourist would. So it dilutes the greater story, the greater film of the man.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


4 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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