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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga Reviews

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Brandon Judell

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.

Full Review Source: CultureCatch

March 23, 2013
Rob Thomas
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

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 Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI) | Original Score: 3/4

March 7, 2013
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Titling a documentary about snowbound Siberian fur trappers "Happy People" is not as ironic as it seems.

Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

March 7, 2013
Kelly Vance
East Bay Express

Quirky and a little scary and rapturous all at the same time.

Full Review Source: East Bay Express

March 5, 2013
Marjorie Baumgarten
Austin Chronicle

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 Source: Austin Chronicle | Original Score: 3/5

February 28, 2013
Barbara VanDenburgh
Arizona Republic
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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 Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4/5

February 28, 2013
Brent Simon
Shared Darkness

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 Source: Shared Darkness | Original Score: B+

February 23, 2013
Robert Denerstein
Movie Habit

From Siberia, with Happiness

Full Review Source: Movie Habit

February 22, 2013
Brian Tallerico

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 Source: | Original Score: 3.5/5.0

February 22, 2013
Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
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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 Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

February 22, 2013
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Herzog ... continues his streak of well-crafted documentaries with surprising subjects.

Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press | Original Score: 3/4

February 21, 2013
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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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.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

February 15, 2013
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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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 Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3.5/4

February 15, 2013
Marc Mohan

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 Source: Oregonian | Original Score: B+

February 14, 2013
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
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Herzog has become a master of the understatement - knowing just how long the images can sustain you without a word being said.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

February 14, 2013
Robin Clifford
Reeling Reviews

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 Source: Reeling Reviews | Original Score: B

February 14, 2013
Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
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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 Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

February 14, 2013
Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
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The film has a relaxed, matter-of-fact feel.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3/4

February 14, 2013
Ron Wilkinson
Monsters and Critics

A cautionary tale of humans adjusting to their environment, instead of attempting to make the environment adjust to them.

Full Review Source: Monsters and Critics | Original Score: 7/10

February 14, 2013
Gerald Peary
Boston Phoenix

They are fun to watch as they shape skis out of tree trunks, and hang out with their dogs.

Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix | Original Score: 2.5/4

February 12, 2013
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