Happy People: A Year in the Taiga - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2014
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is another amazing documentary from Werner Herzog. He always chooses very human stories and Happy People is no different. This is about as pure human as you can get anymore. We see people living in the Siberian Taiga, who have no running water, no electricity, no stores, no cars, nothing, but what they make and what they kill. They live off the land. Along the way we meet trappers, boat makers, fishermen, hunters, and a WWII hero. Most aren't given a lot of screen time, as we mostly follow one trapper. I like that we're given a lot of time with one person because it allows us to see someone in every aspect of their life in the Taiga, but also because the trapper who has all the screen time is extremely interesting.

Happy People is a film that everyone should watch. It's about people who are truly free, which is a theme nailed home by Herzog's narration many times. The people of the Taiga aren't confined to the types of lives we lead. There's no law, there's no telephones, no computers; nothing but the people themselves and what they create. This is one of those movies that just makes you want to get out of the consumerist, wasteful society we live in. 
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2013
I never thought I'd say this, but while watching this film I actually missed Werner Herzog's usual grand pretentiousness. "Happy People" is a very interesting look at a culture so distant from (but in some ways shockingly similar to) our own, but a lot of life in the Taiga is slow, uneventful business, and that is definitely reflected in the film. It may be worth seeing if you want a peek into a different way of life, but unlike Herzog's previous films, it doesn't explore the underlying human themes nearly as much as it could have(or in my opinion should have).
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2013
"Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" is a fairly routine ethnographic documentary about fur trappers living in a remote part of Siberia that is improved by Werner Herzog's spirited narration.(Seriously, could he just narrate every documentary, plus become the official voice of Roger Ebert and do Monday Night Football?) He even sounds a little envious of their lives while the rest of us get to complain when the temperatures fall into the teens. The trappers do get their say as they perform tasks that have been handed down from generation to generation with occasional technological improvements like snowmobiles and chainsaws. (Sadly, the indigenous population do not have the same option as their traditions are dying off with their elders.) Basically, if you want to learn to how to make an efficient, if not stylish, pair of skis, you've come to the right place. And man is that a big hammer! So while the trappers depend on the outside world for supplies to arrive via helicopter and boat, weather permitting, and to sell their furs, they pay little attention to what goes on elsewhere, especially the singing politician, and just go about their lives.
Super Reviewer
August 28, 2014
Werner Herzog's, Happy People is yet another example of what makes him a good filmmaker. It's observant, beautifully shot, and restrained in its narration, letting the images and people speak for themselves. The film follows a group of trappers in the incredibly brutal and remote Siberian Taiga. So isolated, this area can only be reached by boat or helicopter, and only during certain times. Herzog captures this vastness beautifully, giving us expansive shots of the barren landscape, in its boldness and its breathtaking nature. Here we get intimate insights in to the men and women who brave this land, who, in their simplicity and assuredness, offer a lot of profound insight.

Visually, the film is stunning, as Herzog's work tends to be. Here Herzog is able to put to film something that seems surreal, it is so foreign to us. It is always engaging, and features just the right mix of narration, images, and dialoged from the trappers. Herzog lets what they say unfold organically, and the shots he is able to captures are nothing short of astonishing.

An excellent documentary.

4/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2013
Interesting documentary about trappers in Siberia, bereft from technology and civilisation.
October 10, 2013
Although I rarely fault documentaries for their visual style (after all, it's all about story here), I have to say that I was expecting something grander from Werner Herzog, cinematically-speaking. This looks like it was filmed on a single handycam.

Other than that, the documentary did what it was supposed to do: fascinated me and kept me enthralled throughout. Great job!
October 7, 2013
Its as good as a national geographic tv show which is fine but not enough to be a movie. The title is misleading, these people don't seem particularly more or less happy then anyone else. Its interesting to see how they live but there are rural people all over the planet that live just as simply if not more-so.
½ May 13, 2013
I watched it twice. Those in the room wanted to do the same. Now you have to ask yourself: why? This film will humble you. There is also an hour-long doc about the wildlife in the Special Features.
April 5, 2013
I am loving seeing them using fairly primitive tools and traps.. While I can't say it would be "simple" living, it seems very down to earth.. but, man.. seeing them walking around and working in the freezing cold with no gloves made me feel cold..
March 26, 2013
A fantastic film if you like wilderness, adventure, a look into the unknown and unfathomed and animals. Engaging, wonderful and slightly off the wall. Vintage Herzog!
½ February 12, 2013
Werner Herzog cut a four hour television documentary by Dmitry Vasyukov to an hour and a half and added his own narrative gravitas to create HAPPY PEOPLE. This would be a fine television special. It's underwhelming as a big screen movie; particularly the low resolution digital imagery which often looks as if it were copied from worn VHS tapes.
October 21, 2015
I don't even know why I love it so much.
October 10, 2015
another unforgettable journey thru Siberia with director Werner Herzog
½ July 25, 2015
Very Well done. This is really a documentary, and the title is misleading, but it is a good watch.
May 8, 2013
Beautifully shot, honest in its observation and heartwarming. We can all learn a thing or two from these people who live simply, who are active, self-sufficient and all at the same time content with everything they do.
½ March 25, 2015
I didn't know this was a Herzog movie until after watching it. I thought it was awesome, but not what I'm use to from the director. It's the kind of movie that I find very underwhelming, but that's a part of it's charm. With Herzog I expect extreme escapism and this movie didn't deliver. I think it's because the movies I've seen by him the scenery is a big part of the experience, and in this movie the people in the movie are up front and center. And they deserve it. I really respect their way of life. Then again, where I live the forest is a lot like the forest in the movie so maybe me being very familiar with the scenery makes me not really notice.
½ February 10, 2015
If it was some sort of passion that drove Herzog to produce this film, that passion was likely frozen under the river during that Siberian winter wanting to be thawed out. Thankfully, the moving pictures speak for themselves, but they don't necessarily speak of happiness here. A scenic documentary, nonetheless, and one worth seeing many times even if only for its scenery.
January 21, 2015
I watched it more for the scenery and visuals, which did not disappoint. I didn't really feel one way or another about the people presented in the movie, but did enjoy seeing the companionship between the hunters and their dogs. I didn't really get the title "Happy People". "Satisfied People" might have been more appropriate. Or maybe "Content People". Regardless, it's a good movie if you're looking for visuals and a moment in the lives of people from other parts of the world, but it doesn't feel too new, doesn't really convey any sort of message, and isn't necessary viewing.
½ December 3, 2014
Great documentary about life in the Russian Taiga.
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