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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 1,185 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
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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:

|

Language:

Release Date:

8 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Where the Green Ants Dream  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Werner Herzog has revealed on DVD commentary that this movie is dedicated to his mother, who died at the time when the movie was made. 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

Hanky Panky
(uncredited)
Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich
Watson sings the first line twice
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User Reviews

 
maybe not one of Herzog's best, but still a vital film with grand visuals and some good acting
29 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Where the Green Ants Dream- at the least featuring one of Werner Herzog's best titled films as it's one of those amazing visuals one gets out of the strangest of the director's work- is placed in a somewhat minor cannon of the German maverick's work, and maybe rightfully so. It's about a controversial topic, that of the rights of the Aborigines and the Australian's seeming right via original British Imperial rule, and it features practically all non-professional actors and some shaky transitions between its sturdy plot and non-sequiters and quintessential Herzogian landscapes. If I were recommending Herzog films to a friend this wouldn't be at the top of the crop (unless of course one is fervently into Australian issue movies or love that one song from the 80s "Beds are Burning"). But it's by no means an over-ambitious quagmire like Heart of Glass, and at worst it's occasionally dull or, and I hate to say this for Herzog, too eccentric for its own good.

It's not to say some of Herzog's bits of character eccentricities aren't out of place. There's featured here amid the story of an aboriginal tribe peacefully protesting and standing their ground against construction on a sacred land of the title name various strange bits of business. My favorite was that mid-section involving the Aborigines asking for a plane, assumed on the part of the construction group as part of the negotiations, and features in one of the oddest parts of the movie the one black pilot from the Aussie air force who keeps singing "My baby does the hanky-panky" to himself. And there's some cool visuals of stock tornado footage and those barren wastelands and perplexing dunes and pyramid-hills in the desert plains that provide the director some choice locations to film. It's hard not to see for the Herzog fan some allotment of poetry.

But there are some problems that I couldn't quite ignore. Despite the acting force of Bruce Spence, who displays far more here as a gifted actor (contrary to what another IMDb reviewer said) and as more than just the kooky flier in the Mad Max movies, the acting is in general fairly weak and at best standard and too off-kilter. It's fairly distracting when Herzog can't quite corral his actors as well as with his technical skills; this also despite some real 'presence' with the two aboriginal chiefs. And certain big scenes, like the courtroom, aren't as effective as might have been intended and come off as dry and too naturalistic and stuffy.

And yet, even with these qualms, it's got some real courage and conviction with its message, which is that aside from the typical "respect the native culture" beat is that people need to learn to live together and not have cultures lost and squandered in the face of bigotry and imperialistic attitudes that should have been squashed decades ago. It's a very good, if not great, examination of a meeting of two societies and an identification of "the other" by a filmmaker willing to take it on. 7.5/10


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