Happy People: A Year in the Taiga Reviews

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Brandon Judell
CultureCatch
March 23, 2013
Cut down from a four-hour documentary by Vasyukov, the result is a film lacking in catastrophic tragedies of any sort that holds you nonetheless with its raw view of lives spurning quotidian modern comforts with a vengeance.
Rob Thomas
Capital Times (Madison, WI)
March 7, 2013
In a very real sense, we are watching Herzog watch this film, his rapturous reaction illuminating as much about himself as his subjects.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 7, 2013
Titling a documentary about snowbound Siberian fur trappers "Happy People" is not as ironic as it seems.
Kelly Vance
East Bay Express
March 5, 2013
Quirky and a little scary and rapturous all at the same time.
Marjorie Baumgarten
Austin Chronicle
February 28, 2013
It's not that Happy People is uninteresting... It's just that the one sensibility of which we were previously aware -- that of Herzog's -- is indiscernible, as if frozen beneath all this movie's ice.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Barbara VanDenburgh
Arizona Republic
February 28, 2013
Herzog's longing for the ideological purity in which these lives are lived, free of paperwork and bureaucracy, taxes and technology, drives the film, which lacks an overall story arc.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Sam Adams
Philadelphia City Paper
February 23, 2013
Unmistakably part of the director's canon, and just as unmistakably a minor addition to it.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Brent Simon
Shared Darkness
February 23, 2013
A stirring meditation on the human spirit in extreme conditions, Happy People also reflects Herzog's passion and fascination for the often unforgiving nature of the wild.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Robert Denerstein
Movie Habit
February 22, 2013
From Siberia, with Happiness
Brian Tallerico
HollywoodChicago.com
February 22, 2013
It's a minor film from a major director but it's still a strong one for those interested in its subject matter - how people can still co-exist with and live off the land instead of ignoring or abusing it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5.0
Top Critic
Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
February 22, 2013
It's a do-it-yourself world that Herzog clearly admires - much of what we see is the men performing the tasks that enable them to survive.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press
February 21, 2013
Herzog ... continues his streak of well-crafted documentaries with surprising subjects.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
February 15, 2013
If you want a taste of life as it must have been for the Voyageurs of old, this documentary is a good place to start.
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
February 15, 2013
Albeit a found film of sorts, Happy People is very much of a piece with Herzog's other work, examining man's place in the natural world, looking at man's history and man's ability to survive, to endure.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Marc Mohan
Oregonian
February 14, 2013
Primarily following one veteran sable trapper through his primitive but fascinating annual routine, the movie also features clouds of mosquitoes thick enough to inspire phantom itching in viewers.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2013
Herzog has become a master of the understatement - knowing just how long the images can sustain you without a word being said.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Robin Clifford
Reeling Reviews
February 14, 2013
The quality of the video, solid behind the camera work and the dedication of all involved (and the wonderful subjects) make this an uplifting happy story about "Happy People."
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
February 14, 2013
Herzog is not insincere. His passion for outsize experience has always captured our essential human identity against big backdrops. He captures it again in "Happy People," but this time with a twist.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
February 14, 2013
The film has a relaxed, matter-of-fact feel.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Ron Wilkinson
Monsters and Critics
February 14, 2013
A cautionary tale of humans adjusting to their environment, instead of attempting to make the environment adjust to them.
Full Review | Original Score: 7/10
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