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

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga Reviews

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June 28, 2014
Your typical German documentary -- slow story telling set to beautiful scenery. The happy part eluded me, and the focus on men only strikes me as problematic for a 21st century film.
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. 
April 14, 2014
Cold, so very cold. A world away, and a people who need to literally do everything from scratch, this documentary is sure to make you a bit more hardened of spirit. I'm sure just about all the residents of the Taiga have never even come close to visiting a modern city. Now THAT would be an excellent sequel (or reality show)! The most poignant part of this film is when the hunter describes the death of his beloved dog. The most overwhelming was the mosquitoes- who would have thought Siberia would be ten times more infested than the heart of the bayou country?
½ April 9, 2014
It's pretty good, the way these people live is amazing.
½ March 20, 2014
gracias Herzog por otro increíble documental!
March 11, 2014
A Herzog documentary that delivers a raw look at modern day trapper life in rural Russia near the Arctic circle. The full year duration of the film puts you in the shoes of sustenance living in truly rough conditions. The experience made me wonder deeply upon how we carry forward primitive traditions like killing animals and fish in part because at times human expansion into undeveloped areas or trying times required it to survive.
February 16, 2014
Not my favorite Herzog documentary, but fascinating all the same. He is a master of getting the small details as well as the big picture. I especially loved the irony of the political candidate that comes on a boat to these people and it is clear that the people don't care. They just want the food. This is a documentary about people who simply survive. Does that make them happier than someone in middle class America? Not necessarily, and I'm not sure that Herzong was trying to prove that point. But it is clear that one of the points is that you CAN be happy with technology and all of the distractions of a modern world.
February 13, 2014
Brings you back to what the basics of live in hunting and gathering. The resourcefulness of these men and their simple joys is inspiring. It goes to show that despite a corrupt government, you can still have a great life, even in Russian Siberia.
February 10, 2014
Happy People: A Year In Taiga - documentary co-produced, co-written and co-directed and narrated by Werner Herzog. It was premiered at Telluride Film Festival.

Film opens in "Bakhtia" a Russian village habituated by some 300 Ket people. They are only reachable during summer-time via riverboat and helicopters when the ice has somewhat thawed. Mostly the men work in the severe cold. Yvgeny finds the summer time to be perfect for axing fine even wood for ski - the wood-plier of which should be unbendable but masterfully adjusted within the duct of the frame.

Residents (including children) walk, work and talk under heaps of mosquitos (humming can be heard), as if some flies have gathered over dead animal. The remedy for putting these mosquitos away is by making tar and then applying it on their skin, as well as dogs'. They celebrate Christmas on 6th January than 25th December; another festivity they proudly celebrate is the vanquishing of Nazi.

Werner Herzog then shows us how men make their canoes through hereditary skills using especially designed wood-cutters to level the surfaces. In the times during which the river runs they ferry packs of bread, catch fresh fishes bring other items until the river starts frosting. Although many of them still can drill through ice in bits, opening it up wider enough to dip in nets and catch fishes.

Then comes the focal point in the documentary, when the trappers go out to apply tricks to capture sables along with their hunting-dog (a hunter is determined by the dog he owns says the trapper). These trappers build high-rise tree-storages for keeping their hunts safe from the mice and bears.

Yet again Werner Herzog's obsession with ice comes in face of "Happy People: A Year In Taiga". It is perfect anthropological study of the tiny population of Bakhtia who are so happy with their struggle and survival. As Herzog says in the documentary "these people have no worries about taxes, government, radio, phone etc". Herzog's explaining of every bit of conflicting scenes always catch my attention. For example I felt quite bad when I saw a trapper driving 150km on his motor-ski while his dog is running behind - before I could have thought of something, Herzog already cleared that by saying that, the dog does not get on the ski rather runs behind (even at the nightfall).

This documentary is for those who have always wondered about the life in Siberia. Since childhood I had been hearing about swarms of Siberian birds in mass-migration to our region 'Sindh' for "Indus-River (Sukkur, Sindh - 9th largest river and in Asia and largest in Pakistan)" therefore my urge has been fulfilled by watching this documentary.
February 9, 2014
Loved the documentary!
½ February 9, 2014
Interesting documentary that takes a look at a unique subject: trappers in Siberia. Good but not great. The documentary could have had a better structure, and be more exhaustive. This 90 minutes movie is just providing us a glimpse. Also, the translators' voice-acting could have been better.
½ January 27, 2014
Werner Herzog, the acclaimed filmmaker and documentarian, teams with Dmitry Vasyukov to bring us this remarkable documentary. It centers on the village of Bakhtia located in the center of Siberia, Russia and the vast surrounding wilderness known as the Taiga.His style is simple, honest and transparent. He gives you a clear sense of the reality of what most people would perceive to be a harsh way of life in the Russian Taiga. We see humans who are connected to the cycles of nature, to the animals, the forest and to their traditions. There is a quiet wisdom and deep joy in this way of life and the film serves as a powerful contrast to virtually every other piece of media being made today. The film is like poem to a way of life that now seems like a distant dream. It is beautifully shot, with vignettes that look like they are living paintings; Russian characters from the time of Tolstoy or Dostoyevesky.
January 22, 2014
Interesting but not one of Herzog's best.
January 13, 2014
The Siberian trappers are about as organic as it gets!
½ December 20, 2013
I expected this to be a bit more fun than it was.. Actually I've come to the conclusion I'm just not a big fan of Werner Herzog films..
½ December 19, 2013
Werner Herzog takes what, under a lessor director, could have been a National Geographic TV special and elevates it to a glimpse into a simple society in Siberia that contrasts w/ our modern living, making you wonder about the meaning if it all. Also makes us look like pussies.
December 16, 2013
Talk about some real men and some real dogs.
½ December 15, 2013
I really enjoyed this quiet celebration of nature, life cycles, and humanity. Recommended.
½ December 14, 2013
Herzog takes us deep into Russia's wilderness and frigid winter with trappers. Beautiful and chilling.
December 4, 2013
A more accurate title would be "Taiga Trappers". Most of the flick is about some guys that go out with their dogs to catch fish and fur for months at a time. Boring, peaceful meditation movie.
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