|films >||Soap and Water|
35 mm / 1:1,85 / Dolby SR
HDSR / 16:9 / Dolby SR
german OV / english or spanish subt.
Three women are slaving away in a laundry in Hamburg. Their wages are low but they cope with their everyday lives with dignity − and find a quantum of happiness from time to time.
In the laundry the machines are already steaming and hissing when the workers in the smoke-filled break room stub out their early-morning cigarettes. It is 7.00 a.m., and time to start work. Resolute Tatjana is still tired as she feeds the wet serviettes through the groaning mangle while quiet Gerti struggles with the brassieres which have got tangled in the laundry net. Above them thuds and vibrations can be heard: the laundry roof is being renewed. In the background the huge driers rumble away and in the cellar the ancient water pipes are being ripped noisily out. A valve gets blocked – and there is chaos on all sides. The boss curses as he hunts for the telephone in order to call the plumber and Monika shrugs her shoulders as she bites into her cheese sandwich: “The day got off to a bad start this morning anyway”.
Monika lives in Wilhelmsburg. From here you can look across the River Elbe to the other side, where the rich people live and where the laundry is also situated. For the past 20 years Monika has travelled by train and bus to work: one and a half hours there and another one and a half hours back again every evening. After that she is mostly so exhausted that her knitting needles keep falling out of her hands when she settles down on the sofa at night. After paying her rent, electricity and water she is left with € 150 a month to live on.
Bonnie is finding the heat very trying. The aged terrier puffs and pants in Monika’s shopping trolley. Later on he permits her to heave him up the polished steps to her council flat. As they enter the four parakeets twitter loudly in welcoming chorus, but the old woman has to get her breath back for a minute or two before feeding the birds. “Moulting powder is too expensive so I give them sugar instead. The woman in the pet shop told me that would work as well.” Then she gives Bonnie his heart tablets. For Monika a luxury, for the dog a necessity – otherwise he may not live to see his twelfth birthday, which they want to celebrate with a new collar and roast pork.
The film lovingly nudges these unnoticed heroines of the working world into the limelight. Full of admiration and amazement the viewer participates in the everyday routine of these three hard-working women who, like countless others who labour at the bottom end of our society, engage in the daily struggle to make ends meet. It is not the boss’s fault: “I’d pay them another three or four euros an hour more if I could... but the market just won’t take it.”
“Soap and Water” tells of the dignity of people in the era of globalization, and of happiness, which is sometimes not so easy to find. But at the end there is always the hope that things may get better one day – after all, why not?
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|impressum | © susan gluth 2008|