'Work, I can watch it for hours,' is an old joke shared by satisfied watchers. For them - and for everyone with a trace of social commitment - there is now Workingman's Death, a gripping film about dirty, heavy and exhausting physical labour. Starting with images of the legendary Soviet hero Stakhanov - Stalinist propaganda from the 1930s suggested that he could move 102 tons of coal single-handedly in one shift - Glawogger's overwhelming documentary is an ode to and an elegy for the worker. The five parts and the epilogue together form an analysis of the global state of workers' affairs. In Heroes, Glawogger shows sacked miners from the Ukrainian State Mines who now cut coal in tiny shafts, without props, in order to keep the stove burning. Spirits shows the diabolical working conditions of sulphur carriers in an Indonesian volcano, as they are watched by some of the earliest tourists. Port Harcourt, Nigeria, looks in Lions like purgatory: the meat-processing industry in the open air, an inferno of red and black, of blood and soot. In Brothers we see a surrealistic battleground on a Pakistani beach, where men and thermal lances do battle with enormous oil tankers. And in Future, Glawogger films the all-too-optimistic Chinese steel industry, where the workers optimistically face their fate. In the epilogue, we see how old industry in the Ruhr Valley is being redeveloped. (GT)

Filmmaker
Michael Glawogger
Country
Austria, Germany
Year
2005
Medium
35mm
Length
122’
Language
Russian, Bahasa, English
Producer
Lotus-Film GmbH, Quinte Film GmbH, Erich Lackner, Peter Wirthensohn
Sales
Paul Thiltges Distributions
Writer
Michael Glawogger
Cinematography
Wolfgang Thaler
Editor
Monika Willi, Ilse Buchelt
Sound Design
Paul Oberle, Ekkehart Baumung
Music
John Zorn
Website
http://glawogger.com