Men At Lunch
- Director: Sean O'Cualain
- Genre: Documentary
- Details: Ireland / 70mins (G)
While it's tough to recommend you to hand money over for a documentary running at a slim 70 minutes, the big screen is the only place to really appreciate the dizzying heights these men worked at.
We've all seen the Depression-era photograph of the eleven ironworkers enjoying their lunch on a four-inch beam 69 stories above Manhattan. But who were these men? What kind of person could enjoy a meal in such dangerous circumstances? Why would anyone work this terrible job when, we’re told, the stats read one dead worker per floor (and that's not counting the injured). We've all asked these questions, as did director Sean O'Cualain, who set out in this TG 4/IFB co-funded venture, to find the answers.
Let's get this straight from the get-go: O'Cualain doesn’t unearth a sham - the photograph is real and there isn't a safety platform just out of shot. It's bona fide. What he does unearth is some wonderful footage, which, on the big screen and if you are sensitive to heights, can give you the heebie-jeebies. He also unearths two of the worker's identities, whom can be traced back to a village in Galway. The director is also responsible for a rather nifty digital re-enactment where he zooms across the Manhattan skyline in grainy b&w to find the men at lunch. Shot from a distance back, their nonchalant attitude to the lunch spot is all the more impressive, as is the devil-may-care boldness of the photographers who will inch out further than what is necessary to get the shot.
Interviewing writers, columnists, photographers and today's ironworkers (the director finds comparisons in the rebuilding of the Manhattan skyline after 9/11 and the Depression era), Men At Lunch builds an almost mythical element to the workers. They are described as 'icons' and 'superheroes' and other superlatives, while some like to read into the image and see things that
Men At Lunch is an enjoyable affair.
Review by Gavin Burke | 11:25 | Friday 18th January 2013 | Movie Review
As someone who loves New York, I'm glad that I went to see Men At Lunch - even if there are only so many ways to look at the same photo. I can't help but wonder why it's getting a cinema release though. As it's funded by TG4, it will undoubtedly pop up on TG4 in a few months time. Television is the natural home for something like this.Posted 14:21 | Sat 2nd Feb 2013
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