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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Michael Glawogger’s WORKING MAN’S DEATH Online

Michael Glawogger‘s epic documentary Working Man’s Death, on physical labor in the twenty-first century, is streaming in 22-minute episodes on Al-Jazeera and are embedded below. It’s stirring, stunning stuff. “In today’s technological age, is heavy manual labour disappearing or is it just becoming invisible? From the exhausted mine shafts of Ukraine to the bloody slaughterhouses of Nigeria, this series offers an unflinching portrait of physical labour in the twenty-first century, talking to the people engaged in this dreary, demanding and, often, dangerous work.” The veteran documentarian asserts, “Work is often difficult to see, and therefore difficult to depict. Physical labour is probably the only real kind of work.”

Lions“: “In a crowded Nigerian slaughterhouse blood, fire and smoke are normal working conditions. We take a glimpse inside the bloody and frenetic activity of the Port Harcourt meat market in Nigeria. As one worker there explains: “My name is Ishaq Mohammed. My work day begins between six and seven am. Usually I get up at five in order to be at work on time. Killing goats doesn’t bother me. Before I slaughter a goat, I utter God’s name. Normally we slaughter 350 goats a day. Sometimes it’s only 300. Other days it’s only 150. But there are times when goats are in short supply. And then we might have no more than 10 or 15. And sometimes we even have no goats at all.”

Heroes” (22’17”): “We follow Ukrainian miners as they go underground to dig the last pieces of coal from exhausted mine shafts.”

“Brothers”: “Pakistani men use little more than their bare hands to dismantle an abandoned oil tanker for scrap metal.”

“Ghosts”: “In this episode we visit east Java in Indonesia where men climb steep paths amid pungent vapours to bring back lumps of sulfur from the mouth of a volcano.”

One Response to “Michael Glawogger’s WORKING MAN’S DEATH Online”

  1. This was stunning when I saw it on the big screen at TIFF several years back. Although it’s great that it’s on YouTube, this is yet another doc that demands to be seen theatrically. The cinematography, especially in the section on the miners, is amazing.

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“To me, there was a deep confusion that still persists,” Morris told the crowd, “and I don’t know what you can do to disabuse people of this notion. I suppose you could hit them in the head with a large piece of lumber, but I’m not sure that would do the trick. It’s a simple rule: Style doesn’t guarantee truth. Truth is something far more elusive. Truth is a quest; you pursue truth. You go after it, you try to uncover it, because we all know that we live in a sea of falsehood. I mean, there shouldn’t be any tool that should be unavailable to you in the pursuit of truth.”
~ Errol Morris

“I hang out with highbrow people and I have on certain occasions earned my living with non-highbrow people. I don’t know what I am. A highbrow wannabe? I’m a groupie of intellectuals. I try to hang around them but maybe I am a clown who enjoys the company of intellectuals. Or maybe I’m a semi-intellectual who likes to hang out with clowns.”
~ Wallace Shawn