Workingman's Death is a 2005 Austrian-German documentary film written and directed by Michael Glawogger. It premiered at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. The film deals with the extremes to which workers go to earn a living in several countries around the world. The film is composed of six differently titled chapters. The first five depict hazardous conditions of hard laborers around the world and the sixth shows contrasting scenes of youths in a former German industrial complex which had been converted into a leisure park
Workingman’s death, the crude portraits of those who move the world
Premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2005, Working Man’s Death is a clever essay on the hard working environments of men and women struggling to live a life at the edge of dignity.
Filmed at the dawn of the new century, the documentary presents a series of portraits of workers in different parts of the world in a kind of cinematic review of the evolution of the conditions and aspirations of the labor force raised by modernity over the last century. The question is: What is a worker at the beginning of the 21st century?
The film was made by the famous Austrian director Michael Glawogger, who structures a polyphonic testimony of the workers of the periphery in 6 chapters.
The forgotten miners of the snowy Dombas mine in Ukrania, the sulfur collectors on an active volcano in Indonesia, the butchers of an infernal open-air carnage in Nigeria, men disarming the scrap metal from a shipyard in Pakistan and the Steel workers at a plant called “The Future” in Liaoning in China make up the bulk of the film.
At the end of the film, a convenient and disturbing epilogue confronts us in our comfortable seats in our condition of average viewers and members, surely, of the middle class. During the shocking images of the film we have the opportunity to investigate in human nature through our most primitive device: the work.
The ancestral rites, the relationship of subordinates with political and economic power, the echoes of a heroic past or the influence of the maelstrom of a changing global market. The dilemmas emerge fresh and potent, while those who are portrayed flee from our eyes as the owners of a precarious future.