Directed by: Wim Wenders
Starring: Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo
Rather than being a narrative driven documentary, this is a retrospective look at the late dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, a filmic homage to the woman and movement that lives on in her dancers to this day. It is, with touching sentiment, a dancers eulogy.
“The tiniest detail matters”, Bausch says in her voiceover and, true to those words, this statement flows through every scene of the film. Brim full of vivid colours, evocative locations and clever camera angles, Director Wim Wenders plays with perspective and scale as the dancers perform Bausch’s most famous works and describe her relationship with dance.
Originally intended as a 3D extravaganza, the 2D is equally impressive without the distraction of another dimension. Interspersed with segments of footage of Bausch herself and subtitled German narration, the film authentically surrounds you in Bausch’s world.
The set is rich and aesthetically pleasing; a mix of studio, stage, natural landscape, and urban cityscapes. Whether the dancers interact with it or not, the scenery is very much a part of how these pieces are put together.
The film is structured around the dancers and their ability to express emotion through the choreography. What’s most impressive is the power of the dancers, who have the upmost strength, agility and screen presence. They effortlessly blend together to dance as a unified single entity, whilst always remaining solo performers. They approach each movement phrase with fearlessness, something that Bausch, it would seem, did herself. These dancers are not afraid of looking ugly or bizarre, which is the true mark of a great dancer in today’s contemporary dance society. There’s no time to flounce and look pretty – it’s about throwing yourself headfirst into the movements in order to keep the spirit of the choreography intact. These dancers emulate Bausch’s vision and personality.
There’s a highly theatrical and fiercely passionate aura to the film, yet the simplicity in places keeps it from running away from itself. At times the music sounds as if it’s been lifted straight out of Swanlake or Romeo and Juliet and then it will move to something more alternative. This aids with the pace and enhances the viewing experience.
At the risk of alienating the general filmgoer, this is a film for dance orientated people, the lovers and creators of movement and those who enjoy the essence of contemporary dance. That’s not to say that it isn’t worth a watch for those who aren’t immersed in the art form. The film celebrates a spectrum of emotions we’re all familiar with, from love and desire, freedom and exhilaration, to sorrow and pain. The movement speaks to the audience with more passion than perhaps words could ever tell. How else do dancers communicate their emotions if not through movement?
Pina is a clever spectacle, worth a watch in 2D or 3D, whichever your preference. You will come away feeling enlightened and amazed.