Happy (Freezing) People
If Werner Herzog‘s rhythmic phrasing and distinctive lilt aren’t enough to get you to see this movie, than maybe the story is: it’s a sparse portrait of three men — though mainly of Gennady Soloviev, who wins my heart — making a life for themselves and their families in the Siberian Taiga. A large portion of the year is spent completely alone (except for the company of their dogs) in the wilderness, maintaining their huts and trapping sable. The movie was marshaled out of Dmitry Vasyukov’s four hour documentary originally made for Russian television. In a reversal for Herzog, the main characters are self-possessed, and at one with nature, instead of being on the edge of insanity and at war with the elements. Whatever you may feel about the killing of animals (note, there is no gore depicted), I cannot recommend this film enough. It is a mesmerizing snapshot of a people who are largely self-reliant and almost completely off the grid. Pay especially close attention to the woodworking!
Oh, and if you are looking for a related “truth is stranger than fiction” read, go here.