Workingman's Death (2006)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Workingman's Death Photos

Movie Info

"Workingman's Death" follows the trail of the 'Hereos' in the illegal mines of the Ukraine, sniffs out 'Ghost' 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, and joins Chinese steel workers in hoping for a glorious 'Future.'
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Workingman's Death

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (8)

This documentary about men and women performing brutal work tasks for next to no money is full of arresting and eloquent images.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

There's scant dialogue in Workingman's Death, but little is needed when majestic camera work by Wolfgang Thaler tells the story so well.

February 24, 2006
New York Post
Top Critic

It's not exactly a good time at the movies, and even as pure education, it's a rather dull film with very little dialogue.

Full Review… | February 24, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Michael Glawogger's glamorized documentary observes laborers from around the world going to hell and back, day after day, year after year, to eke out subsistence livings.

February 23, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Glawogger is an extraordinarily elegant filmmaker with a photographer's eye for striking compositions.

Full Review… | February 21, 2006
AV Club
Top Critic

Glawogger's film may be thematically loose-jointed, but Wolfgang Thaler's cinematography is the glue.

February 21, 2006
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Workingman's Death


[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=darkorange]Director: Michael Glawogger[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Never complain about your crappy job again! This is a fascinating documentary look at 5 different types of dangerous jobs: coal mining in the Ukraine/Russia, Sulfur mining in Indonesia, slaughterhouse in Nigeria, ship breaking in Pakistan, and steel workers in China.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Presented in 5 segments, we begin with HEROES. This is the story of the coal miners in the Ukraine. These men are not part of a sanctioned mining group, rather, they are “freelance” miners who have staked their claim in the closed and abandoned mines in the Ukrainian mountains. Literally using pickaxes and their bare hands, and crawling into claustrophobia-inducing spaces in the mines, they seem a relic out of the distant past. Like subsistence farmers, these men must work hard everyday in order to eat. The job itself is quite dangerous – if there is a collapse, there is no one around to help them, no ambulance to call, no extra manpower to help dig them out.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]The next segment is GHOST. This portrays the sulfur miners in Indonesia. Harvesting sulfur from among a sea of boiling, noxious fumes, they stuff two baskets full, hoist them up over their shoulders on a long pole (these baskets will usually weigh between 155 and 255 #) and make the long, long trek back down the slopes of the mountain. The disconcerting aspect of this story is the tourist factor – as these hardworking men struggle with these baskets, tourists snap pictures and ask questions, kind of a bizarre juxtaposition of old-world manual labor, and modern-day international tourism. It almost makes one feel uncomfortable for the laborers.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Third in the series is LIONS. This is probably the most difficult short to watch. Reminiscent of Georges Franju’s BLOOD OF THE BEASTS, however, in startling color, this shows us what it’s like to work at the Port Harcourt slaughter yard in Nigeria. Graphically showing us how they slaughter, flay, roast and sell goats, cattle, and lamb, a few people actually had to step out of the theater for this part. It’s hard, as a softened society where we just drop into a supermarket and pick up already-prepared meat in a sterile setting, to watch these men (and women) working in this open-air atmosphere, slogging through blood and entrails in their sandals. Surprisingly, they roast the carcasses over burning [i]tires[/i] and apparently, the skin is one of the top selling items among bargain-hunters.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Next up is BROTHERS. We are introduced to the world of ship breaking in Pakistan. I had never even known this job even existed (although it stands to reason that you can’t just bury old ships in a ship graveyard, you need to break them down). The sheer size of these vessels makes this job absolutely frightening to watch on the big screen. Watching huge sections of these ships fall away is just breathtaking and awe-inspiring. These men develop very strong bonds, as they live and work together all year and usually only get a 30-45 day vacation to visit their families back home. [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Lastly, we have THE FUTURE, about steel workers in China. Row upon row of blast furnaces create a violent industrial atmosphere – some of these furnaces were built by the Japanese in the 1930’s and continue to function today. The workers speak of the next generation that will be taking over their jobs, and we come to the realization that, no matter how technologically advanced civilization has become, there will always be dangerous manual labor jobs that require the skill and knowledge of a certain class of hard-working people.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]As a sort of epilogue, a tribute in a way to the beauty of industry, we are shown blast furnaces in Germany that are now defunct – art has combined with the industrial to create a leisure park, lit with different colors of what is called ARTificial light. On weekends and holidays you can walk through the eerily lit industrial park and marvel at the beauty of it all.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]This is probably one of the longest reviews I have written, but justifiably so. This is a stunning and spectacular documentary that will entertain and enlighten you as well as remain in your mind long after you have left the theater.[/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange] [/color][/size] [size=3][color=darkorange]Check out the website as a supplement to the film: [/color][/size][url=""][size=3][color=darkorange][/color][/size][/url] [/font]

'Becca Lynn
'Becca Lynn

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