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In modern dance since the 1970s, few choreographers have had more influence in the medium than the late Pina Bausch. This film explores the life and work of this artist of movement while we see her company perform her most notable creations where basic things like water, dirt and even gravity take on otherworldly qualities in their dancing.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
I had a lot of preconceived ideas about this documentary before seeing it. They all came flat whenever I entered a Parisian movie house on the Champs-Élysées. That is to say, a few hours ago — the 6 of April being the French release date of Pina.
I was initially skeptical about the 3-D. The wave of Hollywood-like and -made items following Avatar has not convinced me. The new technique has remained a mere gimmick, funny and compelling at first sight, but eventually tedious. In this rather commercial context, Wim Wenders seems to be first « classical filmmaker » to use it for artistic purposes, that is as an adequate medium to render the complexity of Pina Bausch's choreography. Also, the critical reception during the Berlinale turned out rather positively. Nevertheless several reviews insisted upon the unrealistic effects of 3-D : the dancers' body would seem strangely « clean », almost virtual. I tended to agree with these considerations. I quickly understood my mistake. Wenders never uses 3-D for the sake of 3-D. Most of the time the viewer forgets its existence. It only appears from time to time : a sudden big shot, leaves floating in the air, drops of water falling on human skin, curtains dividing the space Theses are all magical moments. They reveal a new way of seeing reality and contain the premise of a might-able aesthetic revolution. Till the 1950's people used to dream in black-white. Perhaps, soon, I will be dreaming in 3-D.
On the other hand, I expected much of the Wender-Bausch dialog. Of course, with Pina dying on the eve of filming, the dialog could only have been posthumous. Well, the result is not so good. The film composes a beautiful, moving elegy to a great artist, but nothing more. After a first, innovating and convincing half-hour, Wenders' narration becomes repetitive and monotonous. It's mostly a serial of individual focus on dancers who all equally says how fine Pina was and sorry they are about her death. The film does not go beyond an extensive, overlong tribute. Preceding Wender's documentaries really showed the in and out of things : Tokyo-Ga revealed the paradoxical legacy of Ozu, and the Buena Vista Social Club the spontaneous life of the homonymous music band. Here, there is no paradox and not much spontaneity. Strangely enough a 3-D film only reveals a one-dimensional image of Pina Bausch : an unaccessible goddess, far away from the livings, and far away from the living person she was.
My final statement : an overlong documentary, but, probably, the cinematic experiment of the year. It's not a must-like, but a definite must-see. Eight out of ten.
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