Working Man’s Death

Director: Michael Glawogger

2005| 122 mins Austria

Is heavy manual labour disappearing or just becoming invisible? Acclaimed Austrian documentary maker Michael Glawogger sets out to map it in all its magnificence and brutality. In Heroes he introduces Ukranian miners, illegally digging for coal in abandoned seams in the snowy Donetsk valley; Ghosts finds him amongst the sulphur mines in Indonesia, where the workers are some of the most photographed in the world, posing for tourists as they toil up and down the volcanic mountainside; a hellish slaughterhouse in Nigeria is the location for Lions, a relentlessly bloody cycle of driving, yelling, slaughtering, roasting, chopping and bartering; the Brothers are the Gaddani shipbreakers, who perform their dangerous, gruelling work with perfectly choreographed co-ordination; and in China he greets a bright Future in the steelworks of Angang. Meanwhile the future in Germany looks a little different, where a former smelting works has been turned into a leisure centre. Glawogger’s wide ranging and well crafted film is part paean to and lament for the men who earn their livings from hard physical work.

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