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Pina - Movie Review of Pina - 2011

About Pina, By Pina, For Pina

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Pina - Movie Review of Pina - 2011

'Pina' Poster Art

IFC Films
In subtitling this documentary A Film For Pina, filmmaker Wim Wenders clearly announces his intention to deliver a cinematic tribute to the brilliant German dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch, who is its leading subject and character.

Wenders and Bausch were in pre-production for the film in 2009 when Bausch died of cancer, just five days after she'd been diagnosed with the disease.

Wenders continued to work on the production of the film, and eventually shot it using members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the dance company that Bausch helmed since 1974.

Bausch only appears in the film in archival footage, but the essence of her spirit -- her extreme creativity and unique approach to choreography and movement -- are captured represented in Wenders' exquisitely filmed recordings of four of her best known and most highly acclaimed dances, each performed in its entirety by the members of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

Wenders shot the dances in 3D, and the effect is gorgeous. This is not the sort of 3D in which objects come flying out at you from the screen. Instead, it invited you to be among the dancers on the stage, to sense the spatial relationships between them, experience the extent and feel the dynamics of their movements. It's an amazing sensation, and a marvelous use of 3D. You can see the film in 2D, and it is beautiful, too -- as you can see from the 2D trailer. But to experience the film fully, I recommend that you see the 3D version.

About Pina, By the Dancers, For Pina

Wenders interviews several of the dancers on camera, and they express their admiration for Pina, and their dedication to her work. She was not only respected, she was loved.

The film opens with The Rite of Spring, a ballet that Bausch choreographed to be performed on a stage covered with earth. The stunning work is performed on a sound stage, as is Vollmond, the Bausch ballet in which the dancers discover water on the moon. For Vollmond, the stage is covered with a sheet of water, through which the dancers splash. It, too, is absolutely stunning.

The other dances are performed in non-theatrical spaces: inside a factory, on a well-trafficked thoroughfare, on a hillside and a grassy knoll.

The ballets are intercut with each other, so you follow the dancers from place to place in an ongoing montage of exquisite and provocative movement.

Dancing With Pina's Dancers

Again, Wenders uses the 3D to draw you into the spaces with the dancers, rather than have them step out of their space or leap into your lap. Wenders handles the 3D challenge exceptionally well -- except for those moments when the illusion is broken because a dancer's body is positioned partially inside the frame, and partially outside of it. That dancing out of frame can't really be avoided, especially in a film that doesn't want to preserve the audience's full frontal relationship to the dancers. Instead of positioning the camera in the house, with a steady view of the stage, Wenders and cinematographers Helene Louvart and Jorg Widmer move with the dancers in a sort of harmonic, cinematic pas de deux. The camera work in this film has its own choreography, and it is masterful.

All of Pina Bausch's dances tell stories, so there is some spoken text in them or other sounds used to express special and heightened psychophysical moments that occur in the pieces. The dances are are powerfully emotional, and the film beautifully captures their nuanced, profound and challenging postures. Whether you've followed Tanztheater Wupperthal Pina Bausch through the years or are just discovering her work, this film is sure to satisfy you.

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Film Details:

  • Title: Pina
  • Director: Wim Wenders
  • Release Date: December 21, 2011 (limited)
  • Running Time: 106 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Country: Germany
  • Language: English and German, with English subtitles
  • Production Company: Hanway Films
  • Distribution Company: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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