Friday Movie Review: Pina 3D
February 17, 2012 7 Comments
Pina Bausch was a German dancer and choreographer of enough renown that Wim Wenders set out to make a 3D movie about her dance troupe. Bausch died suddenly in 2009, two days before Wenders was due to start filming. The documentary Pina turned into a tribute, and it’s stunning. You don’t have to be a dance aficionado to enjoy the film (I’m certainly not), but it does help to love images — striking images that move beyond words.
A friend mentioned how she appreciated that this isn’t a standard documentary telling the story of Pina and her work, and I agree, but a brief mention of Bausch’s biography might be helpful for those unfamiliar with her. You know, that she was born near Düsseldorf in 1940. That she took over (and re-christened) the Tanztheater Wuppertal in 1973.
The documentary becomes a tribute, with stagings of her work interspersed with tributes by members of her troupe speaking about her. There’s no criticism, which is fine, as it’s not that type of movie.
Pina taught us to stand for what we do, for every gesture, every step and every move.
Pina’s work reminds us of what the body can do, including how it can move and how it breathes. She foregrounds the body as the main mode of human expression, and it’s exhilarating to be reminded of that.
I did find it very gendered, in that the men and the women wore distinctly different garb, separated into two tribes. But the stories told were not necessarily heterosexual, so there was some flexibility of interpretation there, although the meaning was (thankfully) never fixed.
Pina provides a deluge of images and imagination. With very few exceptions we are given moments of repetition and revelation, with lithe bodies of performers who perform with precision but without grasping too tightly.
So, yeah, I’m a fan, and recommend it to anyone who takes delight in these sort of compositions. The 3D is well worth it, as it does what 3D does best, which is not to make you think that some object — a missile! a superhero! — is flying at your face, but is to give you greater depth perception — a sense of how the actors actually inhabit the space around them.
I’ll leave you with the trailer, which is nowhere near as good as the film, because the trailer adds labels to the images. You know, just in case the audience is too stupid to recognize longing, struggle, or joy.