If someone’s going to recut your lengthy ethnographic documentary into something punchy and mythic, it might as well be Werner Herzog. Herzog takes co-directing credit for “Happy People: A Year In The Taiga,” with Dmitry Vasyukov, whose 2010 original, made for television, ran about four hours. Herzog, happily shrugging on the burden of dreams of others, narrates the survey of Siberian fur trappers a few hundred miles out into snowy nowhere, who also know their way around a bear. Herzog’s ruminations, romancing the Anglophone, are heavy on his usual wayward poetry. Plus, he likes the dogs as much as Vasyukov did. Oh! The dogs. 94m. (Ray Pride)
“Happy People: A Year In The Taiga” opens Friday at the Music Box. The trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.