Where the Green Ants Dream

By Werner Herzog (1985)
From Rotten Tomatoes website: “Director Werner Herzog’s unusual Aboriginal drama begins and ends with ominous footage of dust storms and tornadoes, accompanied by dramatic classical music. In between is the simple yet jarring story of Aborigines staging protest at the site of a prospective mine. The site also happens to be sacred Aboriginal ground, home of indefatigable green ants whose dreams, the Aborigines believe, are essential to the continuation the entire universe. Hackett (Bruce Spence) is the awkward geologist, manning the mining outpost in what he calls “purgatory south” or the south Australian outback, a landscape crisply sketched by Herzog’s stark cinematography of dust heaps and empty vistas. When the fearless Aborigines walk directly into a line of exploding charges, the mining operation comes to a grinding halt, and Hackett barely prevents frustrated workers from killing them. The simplicity of the Aborigines’ aims, (they will not be swayed by money) serves to highlight the ridiculous and greedy machinations of the mining company as well as the Australian “law of the land.” As the absurdist struggle progresses towards a trial, Hackett’s role as a liaison between the mining company and the stoic natives brings him closer and closer to the Aborigines’ simple yet expansive philosophy of a land-centered spirituality.”

The trial scene is outstanding—a great exercise in the semiotics of nature, contrasting the court of British law with TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge).