Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

I didn’t really know what I was in for when going in to this film, this was a leap of faith that I took simply because the film was directed by Herzog. While it did not blow my mind,  it was kinda interesting on multiple levels. The way it portrays the Siberian wilderness was quite beautiful for one thing. All that abundant, untouched nature along the river, that was just mesmerizing, it was just so pure and clean in the winter. I’m a sucker for good aesthetics and on that level this movie really had its hook in me. Living there, in the Taiga,  basically cut off from the rest of the world most of the year, it all sounds very fascinating as an idea, even a bit appealing. As if it provided this mythical final refuge from the frantic modern city life. That said, I am fully aware that is just the romantic in me speaking, obviously living in a place that basically demands very good survival skills and self-reliance for most of the year certainly would be a very harsh and tasking life, especially from the POV of the professional trappers, whose lives we examine in the documentary. It’s just so exotic that you can’t help finding yourself be attracted by it.

I particularly liked all the segments depicting the people hand making their own tools, building and repairing the hunting cabins, cooking up their own fly repellent, making small kayaks from trees… Learning how it was done and what you needed to look for, it was all very fascinating, though  I don’t really know why.  I’m not a particularly gung-ho survivalist or do-it-yourself person, I’m not even that good with my hands that I could build something, but I was still enthralled, especially when you were explained what kind of wood you had to use when making skis, it couldn’t be crooked because that would break during the manufacturing process. I suppose it’s tied to my fascination to cooking, I like seeing and discovering how things are made.

If I had to sum it, the film is kinda charmingly mundane, engrossing at times and it’s those part what really make it worth watching. Also, the few scenes concentrating on the dogs the trappers own were adorable. Especially the puppies.


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