Workingman’s Death follows the trail of the HEROES in the illegal mines of the Ukraine, sniffs out GHOSTS among the sulfur workers in Indonesia, finds itself face to face with LIONS at a slaughterhouse in Nigeria, mingles with BROTHERS as they cut a huge oil tanker into pieces in Pakistan…
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Glawogger's masterpiece is this incredible document on labour, the effect of globalization and what man must do to just survive. 5 aptly named chapters examine extreme situations in Ukraine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and China. The film is both awe inspiring and nausea inducing at times; but Glawogger's silent observation is masterful. Aided by rich cinematography and a perfect score by John Zorn.
There's a necessary discourse around portrayals of hardship, on the line between document & exploitation. But how arrogant to suggest that a lack of narration makes this the latter? As if a few words could neatly contextualize these horrors for the hand-wringing viewer. Or that extraordinary production is somehow inherently trivializing? In what simplistic world does good=pretty & bad=ugly? Not unproblematic but, 4.5
BROTHERS: "God gave us this task. The job is death itself. Death is always with us. We have to defeat our fear or we can't do this work. But what choice does one have?" LIONS: "We are born into suffering because in this country nothing is as it should be. So everyone here does his job patiently. And if God in His infinite mercy should bestow us with success, so be it! Skin! Innards! Heads!"
Disturbing for all the wrong reasons. Well intentioned...but exploitive. I'm not sure where Glawogger is truly coming from, what he(or a lot of other documentary filmmakers) now want to achieve...I think imaginary, creative films that combat or depict WHY we live this way would be more beneficial. We need protest art. Not poverty or suffering porn.