17 May 2012


Directed by Wim Wenders
Full credits at IMDb

Pina's title refers not just to the late choreographer Pina Bausch but also to the institution she founded and the ideal she embodied—that dance is life. Wender's 3D documentary tears the dances off the stage and drops them into the real world, letting Pina's troupe fill the spaces between the major set pieces (like her rivetingly violent "Rite of Spring," all writhing, thrashing, and toppling over) with choreography in train stations, trams, street corners, forests, and streams. Every dancer is introduced with a short individual dance that defines their personality. Wenders also lets them talk, but we never see them speaking; the movie pushes a philosophy that words are necessary but not sufficient. Like music or the image, dance transcends language, expressing the ineffable—compensating when words fail.

Shooting in 3D, Wenders restores some of the theatricality that would otherwise be lost in the transfer between media. He's also no mere passive recorder: he uses camera movement, cuts and mise-en-scene to transform Pina's choreography into cinema, introducing new dimensions of movement beyond those of the dancers' bodies. He captures the best of both film and dance. (Pina's people prove excellent film actors, as well, their evocative facial expressions served well by close-ups.) As in The Buena Vista Social Club, Wenders is reluctant to let performances play out in full; he abridges the dances, interrupting them with archival interviews and rehearsal footage. But this is because the dance is not Pina's, or even Pina's, sole subject: it's also the dancers, the philosophy, the feeling. Grade: A-

Watch the trailer (a work of art on its own):

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