Saturday, April 5, 2014
Happy People: A Year on the Taiga (2010)
Directed by Werner Herzog this slow paced documentary focuses on a group of Russian fur trappers who live in an isolated part of the central Siberian Taiga. No roads come near the village (population 300 people) these men call home. Only accessible in the summer when the river isn’t frozen, this remote outpost can only be reached via helicopter or boat. The trappers trap Sable and their preparations run year round. These men cover areas of hundreds of kilometers and build roughly 1000 or so primitive but complex traditional traps and snares, which kill their prey instantly. It's a fascinating glimpse into the livelihoods of a group of near self-sufficient men. Aside from a few basic necessities for which they are reliant on the outside world (petrol, snowmobiles, axes, chainsaws etc) they make whatever they might need: such as tools, insect repellent (from birch tree bark) and so on. Their ability to survive the extremely harsh winter climate is particularly impressive. Similarly so are their woodworking skills: each season the men make their own skis from scratch. They use simple tools such as an axe, wedges, woodworking plane, etc. Each trapper has a dog which serves as their hunting companion while they're alone out in the wilderness for most of the Winter.