Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, a film by Dmitry Vasyukov and Werner Herzog
Equipped only with what they bring on the hunt along with their individual values, the indigenous people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga, are truly happy people. Herzog, who is known as one of the greatest fimmakers of the New German Cincema, does another magnificent job at producing this beautiful and sublime documentary about those living and surviving in the Siberian wilderness village of Bakhtia.
Taiga is the world’s largest land biome, making up 29% of the world’s forest cover. Inhabited by 300 people, the town of Bakhtia is far from civilization. There is no telephone available, no running water, and no medical aid in this village. Those who inhibit this area are on their own. They must rely solely on what they have learned from their forefathers, who taught them how to survive.
The camera follows one main villager through all four seasons. It is late spring, early summer at the beginning of the film as the hunter lays his traps, trains his puppies, builds new canoes, collects firewood, and makes adjustments to his damaged huts.
As a vegetarian and animal lover, I was a bit skeptical about watching this film. I was unsure if as the viewer I would be along for the bloody hunts, but I am very intrigued by what I saw and what I learned throughout the course of the film. The journey throughout this remote and stunningly beautiful landscape, teaches us that surviving in the Taiga is all about who outsmarts whom. I came to realize how important cultural traditions are as well as how necessary they are to pass down to younger generations. I would recommend watching and learning from these very happy people.
“When I came here, I had a feeling that my dream had come true. You enjoy the beauty of nature, and you do your job at the same time. That’s why they all end up by being hunters. Because hunting brings you closer to the Taiga than anything else”.
– Bakhtia Villager | Hunter