Critic scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.
Like "Grizzly Man," Herzog's latest documentary, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is mostly built around another filmmaker's priceless footage. Read full review
At bottom, though, Happy People celebrates the hard-won freedoms that living in the Taiga offers those who are willing to confront its challenges. There are few places on the planet where the strictures of society don't apply, and the trade-off for fending off bears and minus-50-degree weather is the opportunity to lead a pure, solitary life. Read full review
Herzog’s longing for the ideological purity in which these lives are lived, free of paperwork and bureaucracy, taxes and technology, drives the film, which lacks an overall story arc. And that longing makes the title’s veracity a little suspect. Read full review
The film is both elegiac and amazingly retro, like the nature specials that baby boomers were weaned on - although it's not for animal lovers, unless you have a specific grudge against sables. "Happy People" is the title, but it's virtually all men. Read full review
“Happy” isn’t meant ironically. Herzog, who narrates, clearly loves, and envies, the trappers’ elemental existence and connection to nature. Read full review
While the original version's four hours might have made for wearisome viewing for Western audiences, Herzog's 94-minute cut feels just right, fully immersing us in this rarified world without lapsing into tedium. Read full review
It’s not that Happy People is uninteresting – its presentation of previously unknown, distant lives is full of lots of interesting tidbits. It’s just that the one sensibility of which we were previously aware – that of Herzog’s – is indiscernible, as if frozen beneath all this movie’s ice. Read full review
This Siberian jaunt, free from cultural weirdness and ethical barbed wire, is even more of a vacation for Werner Herzog than it first appears: The German codirector never left L.A. Read full review
There is indeed much beauty on display, from the icy Taiga landscape to the age-old trapping techniques passed on through generations. But this does feel like a lesser Herzog project (he joined on after it was shot). For viewers who don't share his awe, a short film probably would have sufficed.
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It would be inaccurate to call Happy People: A Year in the Taiga the newest Werner Herzog film. Read full review
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