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The Happy Film

Distributed by Passion River Films, 154 Mt. Bethel Rd., Warren, NJ 07059; 732-321-0711
Produced by Ben Nabors
Directed by Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, and Hillman Curtis
DVD , color, 95 min.
General Adult
Psychology, Therapy, Medication, Meditation, Artists, Graphic Design,

Reviewed by Johnnie N. Gray, Director of Media Services, Christopher Newport University

Date Entered: 3/1/2018

Finding the exact recipe for happiness sounds like an impossible task, but for Stefan Sagmeister, he attempts to do just that. Sagmeister, a very successful graphic artist, begins a quest for finding and dissecting happy moments in an effort to always be happy. Sagmeister is followed as he attempts to organize his thoughts in to what constitutes his recipe for happiness and is the basis for the film. Sagmeister consults various experts, such as an author who wrote a book on what happiness consists of and how to create it. This conversation, launches Sagmeister further onward in his search. He takes part in a meditation retreat, in therapy, and eventually tries medication to help with finding the ever elusive happiness. The viewer becomes the witness as he goes through several relationships, trying and failing to create happiness or simply bring it consistently into his life. Each failure is seemingly more dramatic than the last. Not only do you see a glimpses an artist at work, but also the artistic temperament, which is thoroughly documented in this film. Emotions are as much part of this film as the artwork and animations.

Other than seeing the quest for happiness through the lens of Sagmeister, the viewer is brought into the chase of how one person can try to seek out such an elusive thing as happiness. Along with the narrative are amazing and heady visuals by Sagmeister. His artwork, having a foundation in graphic design, tends to focuses on letters and words - some that are directly related to the story and others, we see, get used in an exhibition. As Sagmeister’s emotions go up and down, his artwork reflects the deeper feelings that he feels compelled to express. While this documentary is a very good choice for a psychology or art class, it easily lends itself for use in multiple disciplines. Suitable for public, academic, and high school library collections.