“To experience it is to be haunted by the bleakness and ugliness of prostitution, the hopeless trap of it, and the defeat of love that it represents. It’s to hear the voice of a teenage girl in Bangladesh, who looks into the camera with a 1,000-year-old sadness and asks why it is that women’s lives should be so difficult”
- Mick LaSalle San Francisco Chronicle
Whores’ Glory is a documentary about prostitution directed by Michael Glawogger. This film, which took four years to complete, is the third installment in Glawogger’s series of documentaries about life and work in the era of globalization, which began in 1998 with “Megacities” and continued with “Workingman’s Death” in 2005. Whores’ Glory explores three vignettes human tragedy and their relationship to the divine. It is all framed by Wolfgang Thaler’s lush flowing cinematography.
In Catholic Mexico, the women are controlled by Los Zetas, Mexico’s largest drug cartel and pray to the god of death for delivery. In Muslim Bangladesh, the girls are born into a life of indentured servitude as sex slaves in a brothel compound called City of Joy. One john says prostitution serves a necessary function — without it men would be raping women on the streets and fornicating with animals. And in Buddhist Thailand, “the land of smiles”, girls punch in time cards to support their families while society looks the other way.
Many of the women in the film are trafficked, some by their own families. Yet unlike many other films on the subject, “Whores’ Glory” is not an outraged exposé and therein lies its power. It allows the women to speak for themselves. In Thailand a girl in a glass tank waiting to be bought tells the camera how happy she is with her job. Her claim highlights the complexity of these women as subjects because her actual job is to lie, to fake lust, and to fake interest. There is nudity and sex but it is ghastly and degraded instead of erotic. The glory of the women is only in their compassion and strength for what they survive.
On his site the director writes “The topics in WHORES’ GLORY are certainly loaded because everyone believes they know something about prostitution, particularly when he or she has never been to a brothel, or they know about it from the media or simply from second hand information. I tried to go in with only one expectation: “This is certainly not going to be what I think it is.” Glawogger presents the film but doesn’t not offer judgement and while this may make the viewers uncomfortable it is necessary.
Reviewed by Alexa
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