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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary  |  15 November 2012 (Germany)
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

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

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User Reviews

Interesting documentary about life in the rugged Russian Taiga
11 January 2015 | by (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – See all my reviews

Interesting documentary on the lives of trappers and hunters in deep Siberia, along the banks of the river Yenisei, during the four seasons of the year. For instance, in summer, we see them fishing and collecting nuts and berries. In autumn, we see them preparing traps, collecting and splitting wood and hoarding food as they prepare for the winter, where the weather can be as low as -50 degrees centigrade. They have a hermit, mostly self reliant life style, living in log cabins deep in the forest accompanied only by their dogs, with minimal contact with other people. They also seem to be exclusively male. They have some modern technology at their disposal, though they also live and hunt with traditional instruments. Despite the title, they do not seem particularly happy, they look more like taciturn, silent and reserved, able to make a living with very little. The documentary also had a detour seeing the native, shamanistic, Vodka-ravaged Ket people fishing and building their boats (an interesting fact, not mentioned in the movie, is that the Ket people are believed by anthropologists and geneticists to be the closest ancestors of native Americans).

Note: This has been widely credited as a Werner Herzog film, but all the German director did was edit an original Russian TV miniseries directed by Dmitri Vasyukov (he filmed them year round) that lasted four hours into 90 minutes for international release. Herzog also provides narration in his trademark German accented English, accompanied sometimes by his ponderous philosophizing.

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