Wednesday, December 18, 2013

HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA (2010) - Werner Herzog & Dmitry Vasyukov

After watching this most recent of Herzog docs (a co-directorial first, as far as I know), I will never again complain about a few piddling inches of New York snow. The Siberian villagers depicted here are truly "roughing it" in the Arctic sense. Iced-over rivers most of the year round. Iced-over beards on the trapper men. Bears routinely pillaging their huts. Even when the fifty-below freeze lifts in the summer, there's still that damned plague of mosquitoes to worry about!

Don't worry. These resourceful folk have it all taken care of. As it turns out, tar from a skinned birch tree rubbed into the skin makes a fine though pungent, insect repellent. They've been doing this for generations. They are self-sufficient. They are close to the land, even if that land is generally flash-frozen and unforgiving. Fear not for these Thoreaus in heavy-duty thermal underwear. As the title states, they are more or less "happy."

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