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Workingman's Death

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Workingman's Death is an unflinching portrait of the state of manual labor in the 21st century. In the Ukraine, a group of men spend long days crawling through cramped shafts of illegal coal mines. Sulfur gatherers in Indonesia brave smoky heat of an active volcano and the treacherous trip back down. Blood, fire and stench are routines for workers at a crowded open-air Slaughterhouse in Nigeria. Pakistani men use little more than their bare hands to dismantle an abandoned oil tanker for scrap metal. Steelworkers in China fear they could be a dying breed.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Directors: Michael Glawogger
  • Writers: Michael Glawogger
  • Producers: Erich Lackner, Mirjam Quinte, Pepe Danquart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese, English, German, Russian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Alive Mind
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001B18752
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,475 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Workingman's Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Michael Glawogger is an interesting film documentarian, and this film
from 2005 is perhaps the easiest one of his films to obtain in a
DVD format which plays in North America. This is about manual laborers
in 4 different settings around the world. There is only minimal narration
and interviewing; most of the film speaks to the viewer simply by seeing
the scenes and listening to the sounds of the people at work. Of course
it's not easy work, which is why he found it interesting.
He picked 4 settings, and each one begins with a one-word title.

"Heroes" depicts a small group of men mining a coal seam in the Ukraine.
Not a big commercial mining operation--no, the seam is too thin to be
viable as a large operation. They crawl in and out--actually even crawling
is generous; almost the entire time they are inside the mine, they are
wriggling around lying flat, as there isn't even enough room to crawl.
The coal is enough to provide fuel for a few families, and some left over to
sell for food and other necessities.

The second section is called "Ghosts" and is about sulfur mining on a semi-dormant
volcano in Indonesia. Small, wiry men carrying up to 200 lbs of sulfur down slippery,
muddy, razorback foot trails from the upper volcano to a buyer down below.

Section three, "Lions", is about a large, open-air butchering operation in Nigeria.
I had to skip this section as it is very graphic depicting animals of various kinds
getting slaughtered and trimmed for sale.

The final section, "Brothers", is about men who work at a port in Pakistan, dismantling
old ships to be sold as scrap iron. Generally, LARGE old ships.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In fact, the last section is about steel workers in China, which is as riveting as the other sections. The workers depicted in this documentary are so far outside any mainstream about to which many Americans could relate that the stories almost strike one as fiction. Fantastic photography and scenery, but the most astonishing aspect is the determination, energy and adaptability of the workers themselves.

The cheerfully appealing Russian miners in this film whose stories open this film are in breathtaking contrast to the grim-faced Putin who is steadily in today's headlines.
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Found it fascinating that even with the extraordinarily challenging lives these people live they still rise to a human formality I.e. Serving tea to one another; various forms of grooming for their own appearance and for the purpose of how others perceive them etc
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By Robert C. on March 9, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THis is an extraordinary documentary. Anyone who views it wioll learn the extremity that some poor people in monetary economies have to go to to eke out a living.
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Format: Amazon Video
Scathing documentary with extremely beautiful shots. This documentary takes you into world that is often times beyond the comprehension of today's modern society.
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Format: DVD
A friend and I stopped watching "Workingman's Death" after the third chapter - the slaughterhouses in Nigeria oddly titled "Lion." It took me a week to find the motivation to return to it and finish watching it, and not because of the nauseating violence of the trussed but bucking cattle having their throats slit time and time again to which the camera repeatedly returns with a voyeur's fascination. Something very fundamental is missing from Glawogger's documentaries on what his website calls "the world of work," by which it means the world of very hard and demeaning work done from desperation by people with no better choices, but it takes a while to find a way to say what it is. I had a similar feeling after viewing his film about prostitution, "Whores' Glory" - both these films are pricey and were quite a disappointment despite my keen interest in both topics, but why?

Perhaps a start is that I feel almost the opposite of the applauding blurbs that describe his work as "astonishingly powerful" or "daring, novelistic." The latter two are especially inapt because there is no narrative - in fact these films are the antithesis of a narrative. They deliberately tell no story so that watching them is like getting bounced on bus traveling a bad road in a third-world country; and not even that because at least the bus has a destination.

The cinematography is often stunning and sensual, making the people and their deeds fade into the background, but there is no novel, no narrative, and there are no individual actors. Glawogger is ostensibly non-judgmental of his subjects, but he is also non-judgmental, and decontextualized, about everything else as well.
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