Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Wim Wenders.
Wim Wenders’s documentary celebrates the life and work of iconic German modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch. Wenders first met dancer and choreographer Bausch in 1985, and he has spent the better part of 20 years trying to make a film that did her formidable reputation justice. Apparently he was inspired by the U2 3D-concert film to tackle the film using the 3D process. Pina boasts some of the best use of 3D technology yet seen in film, and the process brings the dance sequences vividly to life.
Bausch ran the pioneering Tanztheater Wuppertal company for 36 years until her death in 2009. Her best-known dance choreography is the haunting and energetic Café Müller, which opened Almodovar’s Talk To Her. Wenders frames the film with a number of dancers who worked with her briefly commenting and offering insights into her methodology. The film examines how she brought out the best in her performers, and Pina is a tribute to the pioneering choreographer.
Pina is not so much a straightforward biopic, but rather more of an interpretive piece that uses dance as a way of exploring her talent and legacy. There is very little biographical detail about this famous choreographer who passed away at the age of 68 during the pre-production stages. We get very little insight into her life, her influences, or why she is famous, but her presence is keenly felt throughout this film. Pina also serves as a fitting eulogy to her.
The bulk of the film features a number of energetic dance routines based on Bausch’s own innovative and imaginative choreography. There is something primal and sensual about many of these bold and contemporary dances, and they are quite spectacular. But some of the best sequences occur when Wenders takes the dancers onto the streets of Wuppertal and stages them against some modern cityscapes.
And, unlike most modern dance films, which rely on close ups of feet and a kinetic rapid editing style to bring a sense of energy to the routines, here Wenders frames the dancers wonderfully, and veteran cinematographer Helene Louvart captures them in full flight.
Dance aficionados will love it, and will wish that the film was longer.