Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary  |  15 November 2012 (Germany)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,073 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 20 user | 58 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

A documentary depicting the life and work of the trappers of Bakhtia, a village in the heart of the Siberian Taiga, where daily life has changed little in over a century.

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Credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nikolay Nikiforovitch Siniaev ...
Gennady Soloviev ...
Anatoly Tarkovsky ...


In the center of the story is the life of the indigenous people of the village Bakhtia at the river Yenisei in the Siberian Taiga. The camera follows the protagonists in the village over a period of a year. The natives, whose daily routines have barely changed over the last centuries, keep living their lives according to their own cultural traditions. The expressive pictures are accompanied by original sound bites quoting the villagers. Written by Eike Wolf / Head of Corporate Communications, Studio Babelsberg

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Release Date:

15 November 2012 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Gent feliç. Un any a la taigà  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$10,481 (USA) (25 January 2013)


$337,497 (USA) (31 May 2013)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Edited from Schastlivyye lyudi (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Eye on the Taiga
15 November 2010 | by (Denver and Copenhagen) – See all my reviews

Solid and straightforward illumination of the ways in which a few fur-trappers live and work year-round in the Siberian Taiga.

Starting in Spring, we follow the stoic men on their seasonal routines in the village of Bakhtia on the Yenisei river. The utterly unique sight and sound of that big old river thawing and moving and creaking under the warm sun is totally sublime. With the onset of summer, the villagers participate in a fishing frenzy while fending off massive swarms of mosquitoes by rubbing tar all over themselves, their kids and their dogs. As autumn brings torrential rains, the water level rises and the trappers anxiously begin boating their heavy supplies into the vast forest. They begin repairing their traditional traps scattered throughout the expanse while re-constructing their personal wooden huts, which they will use as shelters along their treks through the deep snow.

Other than one hilarious moment showing an alternatively modern fishing method, most all preparations for the long and lonely winter of work in the wilderness are performed according to very old cultural traditions. The simple and skilled construction of skis, traps, canoes, and huts from natural materials is shown with a patient fascination that draws us into a culture uniquely connected to the earth.

Herzog's narration adds insight and a quirky humor to this otherwise forthright film. His patent deadpan humor -- largely deriving in his over-enunciated German accent -- and his honest admiration of these self-reliant men living off the land in total freedom from materialism and bureaucracy is refreshing, even if a bit romanticized.

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