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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2011)

Werner Herzog , Werner Herzog , Dmitry Vasyukov  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Werner Herzog
  • Directors: Werner Herzog, Dmitry Vasyukov
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Music Box Films
  • DVD Release Date: April 23, 2013
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AXYZZ6C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,280 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

With Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Werner Herzog takes viewers on yet another unforgettable journey into remote and extreme natural landscapes. The acclaimed filmmaker presents this visually stunning documentary about the life of indigenous people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga. Deep in the wilderness, far away from civilization, 300 people inhabit the small village of Bakhtia at the river Yenisei. There are only two ways to reach this outpost: by helicopter or boat. There's no telephone, running water or medical aid. The locals, whose daily routines have barely changed over the last centuries, live according to their own values and cultural traditions. With insightful commentary written and narrated by Herzog, Happy People follows one of the Siberian trappers through all four seasons of the year to tell the story of a culture virtually untouched by modernity.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER EXTREME LIFE EXAMINED BY HERZOG March 10, 2013
Format:DVD
Filmmaker Werner Herzog (GRIZZLY MAN, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS), is drawn to extremes and the challenging edge on which some people live their lives. With co-director Dmitry Vasyukov, Herzog takes us the remote heart of the Siberian Taiga and the village of Bakhtia, where about 300 people live on the bank of the Yenisei River virtually untouched by the modern world. This isolated wilderness has no phone connection, running water or medical assistance and can only be reached by river or chopper. With the exception of power saws and snowmobiles, the people maintain their culture and live as they have for hundreds of years, maybe much longer. Herzog’s distinctive narration covers and colors the life of one trapper through four seasons as he hunts, makes his skis, boat and hunter’s cabin. So much was unsaid, but what was on the screen was mesmerizing. It’s good to be reminded that in our day, part of our human family lives in a world nearly unfathomable to the one we enjoy. Big recommendation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not prime Herzog but rewarding nonetheless July 7, 2013
Format:DVD
***1/2

"Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" is the latest in a series of nature documentaries by Werner Herzog (here with co-direction by Dimitry Vasyokov), this one chronicling life in a Siberian village over a twelve-month period. Bakhta is located alongside the Yenisei River in the Taiga Forest, and the inhabitants there have been eking out an existence under some pretty challenging conditions for centuries now (this is Siberia, after all). We watch as they make preparations for trapping, build cabins in the wilderness, fashion out canoes from old tree trunks, fish in the river, fend off bears and mosquitoes, and store up supplies for the brutal winter to come. For this is life as it is lived in one of the most misbegotten outposts of civilization. As Herzog himself says, these people resemble early Man from a distant ice age. And, yet, as the title implies, the inhabitants of Bakhta are far from unhappy with their lot.

This is reflected most in the many wise and canny observations about the value of hard work and the cyclical nature of life emanating from one of the town's most seasoned citizens, a sort of rural philosopher who`s been trapping in that area ever since the Communist government dropped him off and left him to fend for himself more than forty years ago. It is his commentary, more than even Herzog's own voiceover narration, that draws the viewer into this strange and unfamiliar world, one that is striking in both its harshness and its stark beauty (the image of a massive river of thawing ice heading swiftly northward during the spring is not one that will be easily forgotten).

This isn't Herzog's most innovative work by a long shot, but if anthropological studies are your preferred fare, this movie will surely fit the bill.

However, a warning may be in order for the hypersensitive viewer: this is NOT a movie that comes with the proviso, "No animals were harmed in the making of this film."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man and his Dogs April 25, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This documentary takes place in The Taiga Forest eco-region of Eastern Siberia, and as the story opens and various people are interviewed,they all seem to be truly happy although they are all living a hardscrabble existence, and would surely all qualify for government assistance in our country. Yet the men in this community who make their living by trapping [sables primarily] seem to think they have the best of all worlds, in that they are free to choose, work enough to survive and provide for their families, and then enjoy what appears as a cohesive community life with all the others in their small village of approximately 300 people total. The main character Gnady [spelling], a trapper exclaims at the beginning of his interview that no man can ever be considered a true trapper without his dog[s]. He has two hunting dogs at the time of filming, of some mixed lineage, but I would say looked mostly like what you would expect in this hard land - Siberian Huskies. He praised all of them, including the ones who were now too old to hunt with him and whom he says will eat as well as the working dogs. He also calls them his pensioners. Like all true dog lovers he brags about their various exploits and expresses how saddened he is by the fact that his best dogs died too young as both his favorite female and male companion were killed by the same bear, which he quickly dispatched but not before it had killed his two companions.

Gnady is also very proud of his own self sufficiency in the forest, showing how he actually built a hut and and a pair of skis. They fell the trees for the hut and skis, with their most modern piece of equipment being a chain saw.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a life of quiet desperation June 30, 2013
By Chase
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Having just re-watched Nanook of the North)recently, Herzog's Happy People revisits people who live hand-to-mouth in a place where the summers last about as long as a Twitter trend and the winters determine your every action in life. We meet our central characters with a much more serious tone than we met Nanook and his family almost one hundred years ago. Instead of Canada, however, they subside in Siberia with semioccasional modern conveniences (chainsaws and snowmobiles are all that come to mind). The landscapes sometimes remind me of the bleak Wisconsin winters of Stroszek and other times mosquito-infested shots from Grizzly Man.

More importantly, however, is the way the camera reads their faces. These are mostly trappers, men of small stature and tall on wisdom. This is not the stuff of John Colter from The Lewis and Clark Journals or some tough guy with a big truck that defines his manhood-- his existence-- with the fact that he shoots mammals and will show you pictures on his Android if you give him five seconds to get started. No, these are a dying thread of man's survival through the last Ice Age. You see it in their eyes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
no one does documentaries like herzog
Published 28 days ago by Fred McColly
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie for men. Like the mountain men of old, except they are today.
Published 1 month ago by Ben T. Ansley
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Great movie. It really provides a unique perspective on a little known group of people. Also, it was quite entertaining.
Published 1 month ago by shane
3.0 out of 5 stars Very similar to LIFE BELOW ZERO and MOUNTAIN MEN TV ...
Very similar to LIFE BELOW ZERO and MOUNTAIN MEN TV shows. Not much new in this video aside from these trappers use of dogs.
Published 1 month ago by Lee N. Niven
4.0 out of 5 stars Werner Herzog is a mighty warrior on the ground when ...
Werner Herzog is a mighty warrior on the ground when it comes to understanding what it means to live as a human being.
Published 1 month ago by Jeanne Sloane
2.0 out of 5 stars great movie, terrible DVD
5 stars for the movie. 1 star for this DVD. At times, the picture quality is very suspect, seemingly dropping to something that looks like 136p. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G_to-the_D
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
It's not spectacular, but it won't bore you to death either. Does have some nice scenery and some good ideas for those who want to survive way out there. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert Jagger
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting documentary.
Published 2 months ago by Lynne M. Hedbloom
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty interesting to learn that people have lived this way ...
Pretty interesting to learn that people have lived this way for hundreds of years. No outside influences and all self sufficient. They're content and happy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Three cats
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating window on a vanishing way of life.....
fascinating window on a way of life that inspires a contemporary urban westerner like myself. mans' phenomenal adaptability to his environment .. Read more
Published 2 months ago by delete public name
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