- Running time:
- 104 minutes
- Wim Wenders
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
The late, great German choreographer Pina Bausch was celebrated for creating groundbreaking dance pieces that brandished theatrical verve and form, and for fostering a richly collaborative climate with her dancers. Filmmaker Wim Wenders ("Wings of Desire," "Buena Vista Social Club") surveys her body of work in this sprawling 3D documentary, setting her dances against backdrops both urban (on city streets, on escalators) and naturalistic (along riverbanks, in woodlands).
The buzz: Wenders worked closely with Bausch during preproduction of the film to make sure she helped shape its structure and staging. But two days before filming was to begin, the choreographer died suddenly from cancer, throwing the project up in the air. Wenders eventually decided to finish the film, encouraged by her dance troupe, Tanztheater Wuppertal, who wanted to create a lasting tribute to Bausch.
The verdict: An exhilarating display of movement and emotion that practically leaps off the screen. The use of 3D here is astounding, and although it's customary these days to knock 3D as a quick-profit hack job, "Pina" not only justifies the use of the technology but pushes its potential to exciting new frontiers. The message, however, is just as vibrant as the medium. Through Wenders' lens, Pina's work becomes feverish, jubilant and elemental, like a liquid dream ushered in by nimble dancers and surreal tableaux. Indeed, the elements play a key role in the film, with various pieces that feature soil, rain, twigs and waterfalls. Yet remarkably, Wenders has expanded on Bausch's vision and intention, blowing open the possibilities of her pieces by staging them in eye-popping settings: on a monorail whizzing through canopies of greenery and concrete; along a cliff's edge flanked by a rolling quarry beyond; in front of a swimming pool as nonchalant swimmers splash on by. In between, he weaves in voice-over recollections by her dancers, forming a fluid revue of Bausch's electric oeuvre and the deep affection she leaves behind. Diaphanous and dexterous, "Pina" is a kinetic flight of fleet-footed fancy, balancing fragility with strength, romance with tempestuousness, freedom with restraint. "Meeting Pina was like finding a language, a way to talk," says one of the dancers in the film. And talk with their bodies they did: eloquently, explosively, urgently, indelibly.
Did you know? Few suspected that Bausch had been gravely ill at the time of her death, and she was diagnosed with cancer just five days before succumbing to it. She left behind a renowned repertoire comprising almost four-dozen dance pieces that span four decades.
“Pina” is also playing in 2D. Find local showtimes here.