Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

The astonishing self-reliance and resourcefulness of the people of Siberia - and their warmth - bring joy and wonder to Werner Herzog's "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga."
The vast expanse itself (half again as large as the U.S.) offers only contemplative solitude broken by simple pleasures (a cup of hot tea by a fire) and intermittent beauty (jarringly red flora shimmering in the refracted sunlight of a thawing icicle). As always, Herzog would have done better to leave his self-parodying voice off the soundtrack (when a WWII vet among the villagers, describing Stalin's radio announcement of victory, is overwhelmed with tears and unable to talk, Herzog intones, "Overwhelmed with tears, he is unable to talk"), but opening windows to new worlds are what the movies do best - and the Siberian Husky puppies are too cute for words.

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