How entertaining? ★★★★☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
27 November 2011
This article is a review of HAPPY PEOPLE.
“It is the last day of December and unusually mild at 33 degrees below zero,” Werner Herzog narrating.
Co-directed by Herzog (and Dmitry Vasyukov), surely one of the greatest filmmakers and documentarians in the world, this fits in with his chronicling of both humankind interacting with nature, and the single-minded determination of certain individuals. This is Herzog’s SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER (to make a little Kim Ki-duk joke), as to give the film its full title: HAPPY PEOPLE – A YEAR IN THE TAIGA; a place in Siberia that is barely hospitable. There is a village, Bakhita, which can only be reached by helicopter or boat; and during winter is totally cut off. The directors look at the community, though the duo’s real interest are two hunters who live as their ancestors have done for centuries, bar a few modern tools, trapping and fishing in the wilderness. As expected from the man that brought us AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD, the scenery is awe-inspiring – engendering admiration for those who make a life for themselves here, but also perhaps a little envy of routines stripped to the bare essentials. Herzog’s voice over is hypnotic and informative, adding to the fascinating subject matter grippingly presented.