Happy People

Happy People

A Year in the Taiga

DVD - 2013
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A 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.
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : Music Box Films, 2013.
Edition: Widescreen.
Branch Call Number: DVD-AD DOCU HAPP
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (94 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.

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A welcome antidote to all the Russophobia swirling in the media these days. It also made me realize that if as a species our DNA was articulated while living as hunters and gatherers (agriculture is considered to be roughly 10,000 years old), then we need a lot more space and solitude to be happy than is afforded in modern society. I remember reading a book by Carlo Cipolla, an economic historian, and he said that for the overwhelming majority of time that Homo sapiens have been on the planet their numbers did not exceed a total global population of 7 million. I was living in New York City at the time. Population approximately 7 million.

1
1aa
Jun 21, 2016

This patient and beautiful film is mostly about a trapper and the lifestyle of trappers in the middle of Siberia. The skills and capacities they have! It seems extremely solitary, since they rarely come into contact with others, although they are married and have children. Considering my total ignorance of these lifeways, I found it very interesting.

s
singidunum_25
Nov 15, 2015

Amazing documentary about real people and what matters in life! Survivalism in most natural form...must see

d
DrFolklore
Nov 10, 2015

"Happy People" is a visually beautiful documentary film. Some scenes would be stunning on the big screen. I'd recommend it to those who enjoy shows about either people in other societies, nature, or who wonder how one survives in the northern boreal forest. I suspect that people familiar with Canada's sub-Arctic region would find many similarities here.

Being an anthropologist, I approached a movie called "Happy People" with skepticism. Cultures are complex. Happiness is a mood, not a mode of existence. I was not surprised to find that "Happy People" fails as ethnography, i.e., a study of a culture. The film does not to live up to its title, in part because it focuses almost entirely on the life of one man, Andrei, a trapper, who lives in Bahkta, a tiny and remote Siberian village. Herzog in his narration tells us little about other members of the community. In fact, until the last five minutes of the film, Bahkta seems like Smurfville North, populated almost entirely by men, leaving us wondering how they reproduce. Furthermore, we don't see many signs of happiness among the residents, until their Christmas celebrations when men return from isolation on the traplines to join their families. Despite, the film's pretence that these people live in a traditional manner as they have for centuries, the people of Bahkta are clearly part of contemporary society. Although they use some ancient technology, they depend on snowmobiles and helicopters. Furthermore, they are tied in with and alienated by their nation's political and economic systems. We hear Andrei gripe about the rising cost of living as any Moscovite might. The idea that country people live in some version of the past is an urbanite's conceit. To compound the factors giving the lie to the title, Herzog points out, and this is backed up by the words of indigenous men, that Bahkta's indigenous people do menial work and have trouble with alcohol. In a village of three hundred people, if the indigenous people are not happy, and we know virtually nothing about the women and children, how can we accept that the population are "Happy People"?

In this movie, we learn little about anyone but Andrei, who moved to Bahta from elsewhere -- we're not told where --in 1970 to take up trapping. Perhaps it's because of his outside background that he's the trapper willing to communicate with and tolerate a film crew during his long period of isolation. However, Andrei is an admirable fellow, and an interesting subject for a film. He's a stoic who professes to be content with his lot, doing brutally hard and dangerous work alone on the Taiga ("the bush" to Canadians). We observe his life and how he deals matter-of-factly with situations that would be devastating to most of us. "Happy People" is worth watching, but read between the lines, and don't believe the romantic claptrap in the narration.

c
COURIER3
Sep 12, 2015

WERNER HERZOG NARRATED AND EDITED FOOTAGE SHOT BY OTHERS. WAS EXCELLENT TO SEE HOW HUNTERS TRAP AND LIVE OFF THE LAND. BE SURE AND WATCH SPECIAL FEATURES.I HAD NO IDEA THAT SIBERIA HAD SO MANY PLANTS, FLOWERS, ANIMALS AND WARM SUMMER TEMPERATURES. NO GOVERNMENT TELLING THEM WHAT NOT TO DO, YET THEY ARE CONTENT IN THE HARSH SURROUNDINGS.

jpozenel Jun 25, 2015

Very good documentary film about a way of life that those living with all the modern conveniences could never understand. Happiness is certainly not the same for all people in different cultures. Their life is very hard but they do indeed to be happy with their lot in life.

c
ckr1
Nov 29, 2014

I would Give it 7 gold stars just awesome. Shows How people Live in Taiga in heart of Russia. Fishing, hunting with their awesome dogs, grow their own food Build houses, completely self reliant. Very beautiful check out special features great to watch on BIG SCREEN UHD surround sound the snow covered landscapes are so spectacular I loved minute of it, highly reco MUST SEE.U will LOVE this documentary. Just Amazing documentary from heart of Russia.

e
empbee
Jul 29, 2014

Happy? Interesting, great documentary. Poor happy but short dog life.

c
catslib
Jul 13, 2014

At first, this dvd appears boring but it was actually quite interesting. Compared to the usual polished BBC productions the presentation is amateur and basic but somehow this suited the subject; it was simple and basic like the people in it. How interesting to see the lives of people in such a remote place. We watched it twice, go figure...

j
Jane_Sm
Feb 04, 2014

Interesting depiction of life in remote Siberia, but generally not very happy people at all. Between the lines are some rather unhappy stories.

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aaa5756 Aug 11, 2013

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” –John F Kennedy

aaa5756 Aug 11, 2013

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe.”
-Abraham Lincoln

aaa5756 Aug 11, 2013

“Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.” -Abraham Lincoln

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