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      Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

      Released Jan 25, 2013 1 hr. 34 min. Documentary List
      88% 49 Reviews Tomatometer 77% 1,000+ Ratings Audience Score Indigenous people on the Siberian Taiga live in a village on the river Yenisei. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Apr 26 Buy Now

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      Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

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      Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

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      Critics Consensus

      Filled with breathtaking images of the foreboding Siberian countryside, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a fascinating look at an isolated society.

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      Audience Reviews

      View All (78) audience reviews
      Audience Member Presumably the title is meant to be somewhat ironic; the people depicted certainly aren't happy all the time, but have a rugged life. The box is not entirely accurate; it says that it describes a way of life little changed for centuries. However, while the movie does describe a group of natives whose way of life is dying out, the film concentrates mainly on people sent in by the Soviet government decades ago to do hunting and trapping. Unlike other Herzog movies I've seen, the people depicted are far from quirky or weird. They are normal and rational people living the only way to live in their locale, trapping furs to sell, buying few outside supplies (such as tools and snowmobiles) as needed, but otherwise building their own cabins, trapping and hunting their own food, depending on their dogs but treating them without sentiment. The film concentrates mostly on the trappers and their routines; you see little of their wives and families. The people are happy in the sense that they have the freedom to act on their own instead of having to follow orders, I assume. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review Audience Member Authentic look at life for fur trappers in Siberia; and this documentary really makes me consider just how lazy and dependent the American culture is on modern technologies! Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/17/18 Full Review Audience Member Remember Werner Herzog speaking on the topic of nature while filming Aguirre, Wrath of God? "...and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain." In his recent film, "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga", he's done a complete about-face, creating a paeon to nature:  a cross between a Leni Riefenstahl-style "Bergfilme" and a Disney documentary. Let's not forget, this is a director who created a definitive cinematic statement on man's powerlessness against nature - "Aguirre - The Wrath of God" In that film nature is an irresistable force that causes only madness and death.  Even as recently as" Grizzly Man" there was an ominous undertone to his depiction of the natural world. Gradually though, as in "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and E"ncounters at the End of the World, " his view has become much more sanguine. And by that I don't mean "bloody". "The Happy People" features self-reflective, ethnic-Russian fur-trappers, musing philosophically as they conquer nature with a series of canny traps, self-made gadgets, dugout canoes, and home-brewed insect repellent (along with snowmobiles, chainsaws and plastic sheeting). I find this sort of thing very enjoyable, there's a Robinson Crusoe-esque self-reliant quality that seems like a good antidote to the anxiety of modern life. The problem I had with "The Happy People" isn't want Herzog puts in, it's what he leaves out. He barely touches on the indigenous "Ket" people of that region of Siberia, who are at the bottom of the social order.  They are plagued by alcoholism, and their culture and language are disappearing. These are not the "Happy People". They are like the mythological Eris, left out of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis ,and it would have been more fruitful for Herzog to explore their discord. They in fact invented many of these canny traps and techniques that the Russians use. But Herzog now seems to be beyond provocation and provocativeness.  He's in a steady groove that ignores reality but garners good reviews all around. Kael's comments on later Scorcese seem applicable: "He has become a much more proficient craftsman... but the first films he did that I responded to intensely - Mean Streets and Taxi Driver had a sense of discovery. He was looking into himself and the world.... Even though Scorcese shows what he can do in some ways, he doesn't shape the material." (Conversations with Pauline Kael, p. 167) I have some other quibbles. Could a man really travel 150 kilometers in -50F weather at night in a snowmobile? I don't think "Survivorman" would try this with the best gear.  How would you survive if your snowmobile breaks down? How do you get out of bed when it's that cold? How do you wash yourself? How happy a person are you when a tooth becomes infected? Creative people often have a brief shining period of amazing originality, followed by years of reputation-coasting. It's unreasonable to expect everyone to be Picasso.  Herzog has become a master emcee.  I'll remember his earlier work.  I'll remember Woody Allen's "earlier, funnier films" too. In the meantime, may I recommend the low-budget film "Alone in the Wilderness", the story of a man who builds himself a log cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with just hand tools.  Think of it as  "The Happy People" without the quirky Bavarian voice-over. Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Audience Member A warm & uplifting documentary of a group of men that hunt & spend their winters in some of the coldest locations man can tolerate & survive in -50-60 in Siberia. The film in a carefree manner captures the genius & eccentricity of the men & how incredible their talent & practical skills are. As the title suggests they are clearly Happy Individuals that live unique but rich lives in the harsh wilderness. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Audience Member "No laws, no bureaucracy, no phone, no radios". This is a kind of films that it makes you fell how the world is much bigger than your house, your bed and your Iphone. Another masterpiece produced by Herzog with the Russian director Vasyukov. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/24/23 Full Review Audience Member Fantastic. So genuine and admirable these folks are... A very fulfilling documentary, especially if you enjoy winter camping :) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Critics Reviews

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      Tom Long Detroit News "Happy People" seems to strain toward the notion that harsh nature makes for a pure heart. And perhaps it does for some. But all? Rated: C Mar 15, 2013 Full Review Joe Williams St. Louis Post-Dispatch Titling a documentary about snowbound Siberian fur trappers "Happy People" is not as ironic as it seems. Mar 7, 2013 Full Review 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. Rated: 3/5 Feb 28, 2013 Full Review David Harris Spectrum Culture Although Happy People feels cobbled together, Herzog and Vasyukov do provide us with some pretty astounding images. Rated: 3/5 Nov 19, 2019 Full Review Mattie Lucas From the Front Row Puts things in perspective, offering a welcome respite from a world of hustle and bustle that has become all too superficial. Rated: 3/4 Aug 6, 2019 Full Review Bernard Boo Way Too Indie Herzog lends the golden touch that is his voice to the film, making the grueling, harsh winter landscape lyrical and poetic. Rated: 8.7/10 Apr 12, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Indigenous people on the Siberian Taiga live in a village on the river Yenisei.
      Director
      Dmitry Vasyukov
      Executive Producer
      Klaus Badelt, Timur Bekmambetov, Werner Herzog, Yanko Damboulev
      Screenwriter
      Rudolph Herzog, Werner Herzog
      Distributor
      Music Box Films
      Production Co
      Studio Babelsberg
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Jan 25, 2013, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Oct 21, 2013
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $337.5K
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