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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

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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“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many recappers, while clearly over their heads, are baseline sympathetic to finding themselves routinely unmoored, even if that means repeating over and over that this is closer to “avant-garde art” than  normal TV to meet the word count. My feed was busy connecting the dots to Peter Tscherkassky (gas station), Tony Conrad (the giant staring at feedback of what we’ve just seen), Pat O’Neill (bombs away) et al., and this is all apposite — visual and conceptual thinking along possibly inadvertent parallel lines. If recappers can’t find those exact reference points to latch onto, that speaks less to willful ignorance than to how unfortunately severed experimental film is from nearly all mainstream discussions of film because it’s generally hard to see outside of privileged contexts (fests, academia, the secret knowledge of a self-preserving circle working with a very finite set of resources and publicity access to the larger world); resources/capital/access/etc. So I won’t assign demerits for willful incuriosity, even if some recappers are reduced, in some unpleasantly condescending/bluffing cases, to dismissing this as a “student film” — because presumably experimentation is something the seasoned artist gets out of their system in maturity, following the George Lucas Model of graduating from Bruce Conner visuals to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting.”
~ Vadim Rizov Goes For It, A Bit

“On the first ‘Twin Peaks,’ doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the arthouses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.”
~ David Lynch