Tuesday, October 4, 2011

VIFF 2011 Review - Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

I think it would be impossible to not like this documentary. Its basically a feature length version of Survivorman, except its one hundred percent sincere. Also the narration is by Werner Herzog which means the film is never boring.

Happy People covers the lives of those living in an extremely remote village in the Siberian Taiga. Mostly focused on the lives of the trappers from the village, the film follows one trapper almost exclusively starting just before the Spring thaw. Already in the Spring, the trapper is preparing for the hunting season the next winter. He demonstrates how to construct traps (he has to make a thousand of them), and how to make your own skis. All this is very interesting and the trapper himself seems to be very intelligent and at times is pretty funny.

Moving into the Summer the work continues on preparing for the hunting season, and in one scene the trapper is shown building a new shelter for the winter. Even with the mosquitoes around him (only describable as an indescribable amount) he is happily working away. I think just the sound of that many mosquitoes would drive me into a murderous rage, but the trapper just goes about his business like it is nothing.

The best thing in the film is the relationship between the trapper and his dog. Even though by appearance it seems that the trapper is hard on his dog, there is a genuine bond between them. The trapper telling a story about a past dog makes him pretty emotional and shows that he really does care about his canine companions. The trappers current dog shows its loyalty by literally running behind the trapper’s snowmobile for an entire day, travelling around one hundred and fifty kilometers. This plays like a triumphant hero scene and was met with much approval by the audience at my screening.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a fantastic film. Powered by Herzog′s narration, the film is both funny and very insightful. You can tell by the way that Herzog narrates, that he truly has respect for the characters on screen. There was a considerable amount of applause at the end of the movie, and even during you could tell that people were enjoying it. Definitely worth seeking out.

A Gold Banana

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