Workingman’s Death Screen 4 articles

Workingman’s Death

2005

Workingman’s Death Poster
  • Glawogger shoots coal miners in the Ukraine and sulfur miners working a volcanic crater in Java, the slaughter and rendering of goats and bulls in Nigeria, and the dismantling of tankers in Pakistan, emphasizing the workers’ small talk along with their physical activities. Less effective are the last two segments, which draw generalizations from a new blast furnace in China and an abandoned one in Germany.

  • For me, many of these ideas that I glean from Glawogger’s film take a backseat, at least while I’m watching the film, to its purely aesthetic pleasures, some of which we both have touched on in our initial responses. This leads me to perhaps the issue that most interests me personally about not just Workingman’s Death but nonfiction films like it that try to go for something more than the standard informational bent, that try to turn human experience... into something more overtly aestheticized.

  • There’s a confrontational quality to these images... but there’s also a sense that Glawogger’s real concentration here is the Kubrickian framing and the quasi-sci-fi scenery. Even still, the sentiment expressed in the images is unmistakable. This bombardment of stylized portraiture segues right into flowing Steadicam shots gazing up at worker statues, which only reinforce the underlying reverence beneath Glawogger’s aestheticism.

  • Exquisitely photographed, its incongruent beauty collides with the drudgery (and horror) of subsistence living and proves that you can reach the viewer with collective subjects. The resilience of these workers in the face of the harshest realities has the power not only to move you but also to earn your respect.

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