WHORES’ GLORY

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by Michael Glawogger

grade: 8.5

A great melancholy and a deep sense of loneliness pervade Whores’ Glory. A multifaceted, colourful, but also incredibly touching and painful documentary. Not one, but many stories that only the attentive and sensitive gaze of Michael Glawogger could have told so well.

Three worlds, many stories

Michael Glawogger has travelled all over the world. He has travelled all over the world in order to document every singular aspect of the everyday life of those who live far, far away from us. The human being has thus always played a fundamental role in his films. The human being, his joys, his habits, his sufferings. But how much importance is given, throughout the world, to the human being himself? And, above all, how is man debased every day by the most tiring and unthinkable jobs? An important investigation into the world of work had already begun in 1998 with Megacities, and continued in 2005 with Workingman’s Death and in 2011 with Whores’ Glory.

In Whores’s Glory, specifically, Glawogger focuses on the world of prostitution and how it changes in different countries and cultures around the world. First, then, we find ourselves in Thailand. Here, prostitutes clock in like normal employees and go to a room where, through a glass window, potential clients watch them and choose them. In Bangladesh, on the other hand, everything changes: here we find ourselves in a sort of ghetto, in a village where men go to buy brief moments of happiness. In Mexico, on the other hand, everything happens in the street. In a suburban street where from a series of terraced houses women are used to call their clients. First, however, it is time to pray.

Three nations, three cultures, three religions. A perfectly tripartite documentary, Whores’ Glory. And Michael Glawogger, a great observer and connoisseur of the human being, gives the whole thing almost the character of a fiction film. The camera follows its protagonists. The girls tell their stories. A split screen divided into three sections shows us the different realities, each of which is then explored in depth. The mise-en-scene is rigorous, studied down to the smallest detail. Yet it is above all the characters, the places, the atmospheres that bring the film to life. Michael Glawogger knows what to focus on. His camera does the same and gives us a well-balanced, well-structured documentary that takes us by the hand through three apparently different yet incredibly similar worlds.

Bright colours, luxurious surroundings, striking clothes and many, many lights characterise the everyday life of young Thai prostitutes. Then, suddenly, everything changes. In Bangladesh, the environments are much poorer, bare, degraded. The hygienic conditions don’t convince at all and often used condoms are washed and reused. Some twelve-year-old girls tell their story in front of the camera: they often have to meet up to ten customers a day and this seems to be their only possible destiny. The same destiny as some older women who live and work in Mexico, where alcohol and drugs could make them forget their lives, their loneliness. Especially during Christmas time.

A great melancholy and a deep sense of loneliness pervade Whores’ Glory. A multifaceted, colourful, but also incredibly touching and painful documentary. Not one, but many stories that only the attentive and sensitive gaze of Michael Glawogger could have told so well. And we miss this gaze of his so much today.

Original title: Whores’ Glory
Directed by: Michael Glawogger
Country/year: Germany, Austria, Thailand, France / 2011
Running time: 110’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Michael Glawogger
Cinematography: Wolfgang Thaler
Produced by: Lotus Film, Quinte Film GmbH, Living Films

Info: the page of Whores’ Glory on iMDb; the page of Whores’ Glory on the website of the Austrian Film Commission