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Extraordinary spectacle
markmagennis18 June 2011
To put this review in context, I went to see this film with no previous interest in contemporary dance. I have always put it into that category of 'things I just don't understand'. I understand it's a way of communication, but it's one that has never communicated to me. So my thoughts on this film probably won't have any interest to you if you are already a dance fan or a dancer or a fan of Pina Bausch in particular. But if, like me, you have heard that this is a visual feast of a film, or just that it is a Wim Wenders documentary, and are wondering whether to go see it for those reasons, this might help you decide.

I was a reluctant viewer because it was clear from the beginning that I still didn't 'get' it - what did it all mean? But visually, physically, this film ended up astounding me. It has stuck with me such that I can't stop thinking about it.

As a documentary, it doesn't do much to reveal its subject. It doesn't say much about how this woman thought, how she felt, her journey and what influenced it, what tortured her, what she was in denial about and how she related to the wider society. These are the revelations I expect in a 'great' documentary film. Films such as 'Man on Wire', 'Grizzly Man' or 'When We Were Kings'. Maybe those things are communicated though the dance itself. I don't know. Almost the whole film is dancing, interspersed with very short recollections from individual dancers. What these do get across are that Pina Bausch had a way of communicating with people and a depth of feeling that is unusual and wonderful. Those who worked with her (at least those that were interviewed) have the greatest love and admiration for her and what she was able to bring out of them. I ended up with a great feeling of admiration for her myself. Perhaps that was the point of the documentary.

But for me, it was the dancing and the way it was filmed that was astounding. It comes across with such intensity, such belief and such love, that I almost became a fan of contemporary dance. The sheer physicality. The bodies and what people could do with them. The beauty of movement. It is simply a joy to watch.

The quality of the visuals is startling. I saw it at a local arts centre which has a very good screen but I've never seen anything as sharp and as detailed as this. And the colours seemed more vivid than is usual. It was like discovering a new form of super high definition film. I understand it was filmed in 3D although I saw the 2D version. Still, it was amazing to watch. The way it is filmed also seems to work very well. It seems pretty straightforward. Most of the dance sequences are filmed quite simply on stage, but the framing seems to bring out the subjects well, even in 2D. Wenders has also filmed individual dancers or pairs of dancers in various outdoor locations - a city street, a road intersection, a train, an open cast mine. These little pieces are so beautiful and so unexpected. There is even one that is intentionally funny, where a girl gets on a train and pretends to be a robot monster. It's hilarious! So, for me a wonderful surprise. I still didn't end up understanding much of what Pina Bausch was trying to communicate but I enjoyed watching her try.
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Unexpected results…
Dyscolius6 April 2011
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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Lifted me to a different awareness of movement
E Canuck3 October 2011
Pina makes me wish I knew more about dance, though I suspect not all dance and dancers are so accessible or emotionally charged, by choice. At moments I was moved nearly to tears, I wanted to answer the question Pina reportedly put often to her dancers, "what do you long for," with the answer "beauty—and this could serve for now." I saw this tonight at Vancouver International Film Festival in 3D on the strength of its description and Wenders being the director and I'm very glad I did. One of the hallmarks of strong cinema, for me, is an altered perception of the world when I leave the film, which sometimes lasts for a considerable time: the vision of the film awakening me to what is around me. I found tonight not only a visual but a kinaesthetic carryover as I walked to the car, drove my friend to the subway, and then drove home through streets light in traffic. Though normally I don't care for cars or driving, in the wake of the dance spirit invoked in this film, I revelled in freedom of movement—in movement itself—at first hand in my own body and at a remove, in the things around me. This is good stuff.

I will think about scenes such as the woman straining at the end of a rope, about the driven and frenetic movements as well as the lyrical moments and the tributes to Pina, for a while, I think.
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Wtf?? What was that?
yellowporpoise24 May 2011
Let me start by saying, that this movie has no story. And it is not a documentary, as I would define it. So what is this movie? I have no idea! I am not into modern dance, but I was impressed and exited at the same time while watching the actors dance (or act? or create? or??).

There are four longer dance parts and plenty of small pieces, small interviews and only a tiny part with Pina Bausch. The locations for the scenes where great. The 3d effect was great, the stage seems real, and the dancers were just amazing. I felt sorry as I discovered how limited language is. This dance told more about the emotions than any words could.
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a respectful homage to a great choreographer and dancer by a great film-maker
achillespsalt7 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
We should be much grateful that Wenders decided after all to make this documentary. Even more that it is filmed in 3D which allows us to communicate to Pina Bausch' Art in the most direct and satisfactory way. Her living dancers (different ages , different nations ,different cultures, different languages, one common goal: Dancing as a High Expression of Art and Inner Being) are her legacy.

Some of them speak shortly to the camera about their teacher and her remarks to them , some others only stare at us. They express whatever they have to say through their dance. Words are not necessary. Doesn't the same thing apply to Pina, herself? The most important thing in Great Art is the Art itself, and not the personal details of the private lives of the artists themselves. Wenders understands that completely, paying respect to her unexpected death, as well as the fact that if Pina had been alive, by the time of the filming, he could have made a completely different documentary than the one he delivered to us. So, he leaves her choreographies to talk on her behalf. A wise decision along with the other great one: to keep himself as a director in as a low profile as he can. After all his film glorifies Pina, not himself. Rarely have we met such a maturity as that in a director's job.

And don't worry: through the few minutes we see Pina herself dancing ,we can appreciate her supreme and unsurpassed art of her dancing.

Watching the film proves to be a very moving and rewarding experience, a true homage to great art.
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Thank You Pina
flute_ian3 January 2012
Go see it.

I have finally seen a movie which gives me the instinct that this is why this whole film-thing was invented in the first place.

Quick notes: -Music choices fine to excellent, no problem there. -3D absolutely effective and relevant.

I give this a 10 but was brooding to deduct a point for the perhaps slightly out-of-balance weight to...the brooding self-seriousness (humour and fun also abound).

But, no, I'm just being poopy, it really does deserve the full 10.

Before seeing it, I was fortunate to hear an hour-long interview on the CBC Ideas radio program with Wim Wenders. That filled in the blanks of the back story which is not shown in the film itself, so that was very helpful.

Pina, wherever you are, you really did teach me a huge thing or two: Thank You !!
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Beautifully composed piece of art to remember Pina Bausch and contemporary dance with.
Christine13 June 2011
Whether Wender's work is considered a film, eulogy or a documentary, I can say that I have never felt so much for a production of moving pictures before that I would feel the necessity to express my thoughts through written words.

I have a great passion for dance and used to practice it a lot more a few years ago. Hence, this film was a must-see for me whatever whoever says. The downside with dance on film is the failure of the screen to convey depth, and I didn't find the 3D effects particularly impressing here, I must admit. But then again, without it, I am sure it would be hard not to get dull watching 100 minutes of flat images, sometimes randomly and unexpectedly cut of the context.

Because there is no storyline in the film. Not very much of replicas either to explain in clear words why or if the different pieces are linked together, and definitely nothing to tell about Pina Bausch's private life. But that is also what makes this film so clean and consistent; dance says it all.

If Pina lived today, her presence in the film would certainly be more evident to us. The film would let us follow her and her dance company on performances with more straight forward dialogues. Instead, the spirit of Pina is expressed through dance here. Dance is the way she would use to communicate her messages to the world, so why would words then be necessary? Even less, why would personal details of her life matter in this film when what we will remember of her, as with other known names throughout the history, will be for their creations, inspirations and contributions to our world?

Pina's art is shown piece by piece in the film featuring choreographies and performing arts carried out by her closest dancers in different milieux. Both outdoors in the open landscape and modern cityscape, as well as indoors on a stage. It expresses diversity and unity at the same time, gives life to poetry and most remarkably, making music visible in a way that I have not seen in a film before. It describes relationships between men and women, young and old, human and nature, along with senses of loneliness, yearning, passion, pain and joy mixed with a dose of subtle humour.

And they are all performed by a group of highly skillful professionals of different ages, nationalities and languages, whom sometimes, through open monologues, give us an insight on Pina's character. Not only do they reach out to touch by movements, but also through empathy and facial expressions of compassion, making them very credible actors/actresses.

To sum up: If you can deal with lack of dialogues without getting bored, make sure then to have some understanding about dance, or a general interest in art and scenography to truly appreciate this film. It is a definition of beauty and a way to remember Pina Bausch.
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What are we longing for? Where does all this yearning come from?
Ben Larson1 January 2013
Wim Wenders' multiple-award-winning documentary was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA. It is a tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, as her dancers perform her most famous creations.

I am not familiar with modern dance, so why not watch one of the best at work. I have resolved to broaden my artistic experiences this year, and I could not have picked something more enjoyable with which to start.

Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club, Paris Texas), who I really enjoy as a director, has produced a beautiful tribute. I understand it is also in 3D, but I have to settle for the 2D version. I probably didn't miss anything, but who knows.

The film has very little in the way of dialog; an occasional reflection by her dancers, and focuses on performances of her most famous pieces. They were strange to someone not familiar with modern dance, but they were also innovative and beautiful.

I enjoyed the experience.
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Half-finished gestures in empty space
chaos-rampant16 March 2012
Pina Bausch died just prior to this being made. I was familiar with her just briefly from Almodovar's Talk To Her, but sadly not more and not live. So, at least for the time being, this is as much as we'll get to know her, independent of her being here to explain, assuming she would at all, and this is perhaps the most fitting part. We'll get to know her in the purest sense possible, by what dance stirred her heart. Because in a sense you are what you have embodied and made life from, everything else being words, roles, play-acting, it is more than enough to have just this. It is what dance is all about.

And this is how she handled her troupe, as a director herself. Hints, abstract frameworks. How it comes across in the actual dance is a marvel; the debris of unfinished thoughts in the midst of empty space, of course the entire flow framed small in empty stages, but in each person as well, bits of recognizable motion in the midst of syncopated blurs, half-finished gestures of story.

We see plenty of I assume excerpts of her dances, all of them more or less captivating. I do not know a thing about the medium, so I will let aficionados explain the importance of how she innovated form. She might as well have been an inverse Beckett for all I know, danced, acting out hurt that he repressed.

But I am interested in film, and how images can seduce into the surface the core of our being. And what Pina do the images reveal? Lonely, hurt, strong, frantic search. An anxious sexuality at heart, or better yet anxious at the prospect of touch, connection.

And it is important to note this connection with her players, and by extension ourselves as viewers. All of them without exception are baffled to communicate their relationship with her, as though it was so visceral, so 'now', it is impossible to relate after the fact, disembodied in words. I'm sure they could all say it with a dance, wonderfully so. It is even possible that not all of them got her - one of them dedicates weightlessness in her memory, where the Pina I saw was all about weight and pull.

But the're all definitely sure of one thing, that she looked into their innermost self.

Meddlesome words again, 'that she looked into their innermost self'. Watching the film, this is what I get the sense Pina accomplished: she allowed empty space around these people, not over-directing, not explaining every gesture, perhaps not even communicating a whole point or story, reflecting this in the actually sparse surroundings she prepared around them, so at her smallest hint they poured into that space their own spontaneous being. They came out having bared self, having made sense - body, motion - what used to be words, ideas, having been one with just the moment. Pina had only made it possible they do.

She asked one of her dancers to portray joy, as simple as this. He offered his version, personal self, and she choreographed a scene around it.

So there it is in a nutshell, a valuable insight for us viewers. This is something you watch without the need to know what it means, trusting it does in the exchange.

Oh, there is Wenders in all this. Wenders is a frame artist, always looking for something to frame and apply colors to. Most of the time he has dull insights. In Tokyo-Ga, he set out to frame Ozu but missed by so much it made me cringe. Here he comes across a woman that is unfettered soul. He does not puzzle about how you film dance, trusting she has taken care of even that. He does not get in the way too much, most of the time carving with his camera soft paths inside the dance. His dull insight, in an attempt to somehow address the cinematic experience, is the whole as one more staged performance before an audience - many re-enactions on different stages occur in the film, some of them projected on a screen. But he does not turn any of this into a story, which is bound to alienate most viewers.

It is perhaps lucky that Wenders did this, opposed to say someone like Almodovar who commands deeply layered vision. Like Pina's dancers, he is an empty vessel. She fills with the joy of color.
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A cinematic eulogy
Dharmendra Singh8 May 2011
Pina is being classed as a musical, but it's more of a documentary. More than this, it's a cinematic eulogy to Pina Bausch, one of the world's most influential dancers.

The filmic concept is simple. Footage consisting mainly of contemporary performances of Pina's ballets performed by her dancers is interposed with archive footage of the legendary figure herself. Each dancer, at their turn, looks squarely at the camera and offers their own recollection of how Pina inspired them. This is followed by a demonstration of their learning.

It seems that filming dance is making a comeback in cinema. But after seeing 'Black Swan' and now this, I wonder if dance loses something on the big screen? Maybe the realism or the urgency. Definitely something. It's the same with music concerts. You have to be there.

I'm of the opinion that you have to be an artist to understand other artists. They're a different breed. Where else, for instance, would the remark 'you just have to get crazier' be appropriate if not in dance? Some scenes are bizarre. No they're not. They're mad. Mad like Pina told her students to be. There are some arresting images, which to tease us, Wenders doesn't linger on.

The predictable comment being made of Wenders' film is that it is surreal. I don't believe it is truly surreal. Yes, some of the visuals are unusual – like the Australian dancer who dances with abandon on a street corner with cars driving past and a train travelling upside down. Or the act involving two men spitting water at each other. Or better still the act with a man pulling his trousers up and down. But I swear the effects seem remarkably natural.

I was agape throughout the scene where one dancer in a serene industrial site shows a couple of cuts of meat to us and shouts 'veal!' before dancing on her tiptoes for what seemed like forever. Where was the beauty? I wondered after. I can't explain it. It is just there.

There's nothing snobbish about this film. There's not much that is esoteric either. The music is eclectic and the nationalities of the dancers are diverse. Pina united people. This film isn't exclusively for dance lovers; it's for admirers of culture.

Although I would find a second viewing of Pina to be quite taxing, I have no trouble in recommending it to anyone. It's unlike anything I've seen. It expresses beauty in a way I did not think plausible.
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It's a love thing I guess
magus-412 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I had no interest in dance, contemporary, experimental or classic. Until, way back, I saw Sacre du Printemps by Pina Bausch. OK, I was a huge fan of Stravinsky and knew every note of the Sacre. I had no idea it could be taken to a whole new level. But for me, Bausch's interpretation did just that.

---- Spoiler ahead ------

The movie starts with big portions of the Sacre in 3D. Wow! For two reasons. The 3D creates a very spatial experience (duhhh...) that I've never seen applied to realistic footage. Secondly, some of the shots are taken from the perspective of one of the dancers. ------- end spoiler -------

So after ten minutes I was totally taken away by it. It's a wonderful eulogy. I felt hot tears running down my cheeks frequently and at unexpected moments. The imagery is jaw dropping. some sequences are breathtaking. I never slept more peaceful after seeing this movie.

But then again, I think my own kids and wife are the most beautiful creatures on the whole planet. And I think very few people would agree with me. I guess I'm looking at them with my heart and soul rather than with my eyes and analytical, judgmental mind (that tells me, reading this back, that I'm overly sentimental about this; but that's just the way it is).
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Candy for my eyes and food for my soul!
TinyDanseur2726 June 2013
For those of you not immersed in the dance world, Pina is a movie about German choreographer Pina Bausch, who recently died at the age of 68. She was a pioneer in her field to say the least, really breaking boundaries with Modern and site-specific dance. I'd obviously heard her name many times in my course of study in college, but really wasn't that familiar with her or her work before going to see the movie. The movie isn't so much a biography of her life as just a presentation of her work by the dancers in her company, interspersed with brief interviews. The dancers each in turn share their impressions of her and what it was like to work with her, while showing some of her most awe-inspiring choreography. I was so moved! Dancer or not, this movie is worth $15 spent to see it in 3-D.

What really made an impression on me about Pina's choreography and her dancers was the authenticity of the emotional content. Her work is so emotional by nature, often very sad but sometimes extremely joyous as well. The dancers weren't faking it though. The things they were feeling were real. Obviously I'm not in their heads but something in the way they carried themselves and executed each movement indicated to me that this was a very real and meaningful experience for them. It transcended the mime and pretend of much concert dance I've seen. They were so committed; I couldn't help but feel what they were feeling.

Another aspect of her choreography that I found very unique was the site-specific elements she incorporated into her work. She made wonderful use of nature, be it dirt, water, leaves, rocks, trees, or even things found in a city. She used these things the same way Balanchine would use the cavalier in relation to the ballerina. There was a partnership between dancer and environment. The surroundings weren't just a setting, they were part of the dance and without them the meaning would not be the same. I found it so inspiring! In all honesty, I've never been one for site-specific dance. My own experiences with it have been far from satisfying. In Pina's choreography however, I found inspiration! I would like to dabble in site-specific work more now.

I don't feel that I have the words to do this movie justice. Just go see it. It was candy for my eyes and food for my soul. I feel so inspired and so thankful to have a person like Pina Bausch pave the way in the art I'm so passionate about.
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As a visual experience, interesting; as a documentary, not so much.
albertopereira16 May 2011
A biased, filled with preconceptions, panegyric like documentary. For the sake of the truth, after Bausch's death, Wenders gave up on the documentary and made an eulogy instead. Repetitive and simplistic monologues from the dancers about Bausch, that, unfortunately, never seem to even scratch the surface of what the choreographer must have been. If you're looking to know something about her, don't bother.

For me, as I didn't go see it to know about her (fairly ignorant on modern dance I must confess), it has very interesting visual moments. I was very curious to see what Wenders would do with 3d, and I wasn't disappointed. For the critics, that say that 3d made the some characters seem too clean, almost virtual, and the background sometimes blurry, this is a movie (not a documentary in fact), a Wenders movie, not a live Bausch dance performance. And the 3d moments, as visual interpretations made by Wenders, are very very smart and beautiful.

One thing keeps me annoyed in Wenders movies anyway: he's too cocky and full of himself. It shows again in Pina. He just keeps being meddlesome. The camera doesn't stand still enough time, as he tries to show "artistic" camera movements. There are beautiful framed shots, that he trashes in a few seconds, making sudden close-ups, shifts and this modern tendency to very slowly keep the camera in movement, as if the viewer would fall asleep if the goddamn shot is still for more than half a second; or the small straighten up of the camera to re-frame. Annoying.
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Pina is cinematic poetry and genius
djderka17 February 2012
Yes, this is a 10 and a magnificent work of art. I have been to many dance performances from classical to modern, and this is great.

The documentary/eulogy starts of with music by Stravinsky, Rights of Spring to build a spring board to extraordinary film making.

Dance excerpts are interspersed with silent head shot interviews with v.o. of the dancers. Some have nothing to say and are just silent. Excellent in keeping with an elusive concept of modern dance. I love a film that doesn't hit you over the head but asks you to participate in the process, as in this poetic film. Poetic film doesn't necessarily follow a "narrative arc" but presents its own structure.

As to 3D. Don't look at it as 3D a la Avatar. Wenders 3D is really contouring the image. As a 2D image it works OK, but the added contouring of the image really makes it come alive. True there is no 3D effect of a "chair" flinging at you. There is a subtle effect of the image reflecting the contouring of the body, dance,movement,space and image.

Pina's dance choreography is amazing. I loved the use of indoor/ outdoor dance/space performances. Many sequences are really amazing and wonderful.

Herzog, be warned. There is a new camera in town and he is out looking for you. I love Herzog too. Is this the resurgence of German cinema post Fassbinder?

Go see it and enjoy. It will win an academy award. Yep.

When you get a chance go view Norman Mclaren's, Pas de Deux, a short interpretative film on dance with great pan pipe music. He made it in the 1967. It is about 15 minutes.
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See it in 2D
chrisarciszewska14 November 2011
I saw this film first in a 2D version and loved it - hence the high score. I saw it a week later in 3D because I thought I ought to see what all the fuss was about. I was hugely disappointed. The 3D detracted rather than added to the experience. Perhaps the technology isn't quite good enough yet or this just wasn't the type of film that would benefit from the 3D effects. I found it a distraction from the beauty of the dance. We all know dance happens on a stage in three dimensions and our brains compensate for this when we see a film. We don't need to have the dancers coming at us out of the screen. If you like modern dance you'll see this film and enjoy it. If you don't know whether or not you like it it might convert you, but definitely seek out a 2D version.
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Mixed dance homage
Framescourer26 April 2011
I think I am destined never to fully make my mind up about this film. My first reactions (during the screening) was that it is a competent filming of some strong choreography (and dancing of that choreography).

Wenders has greater ambitions though, no doubt coloured by the death of the eponymous choreographer during the film's development. Short reflections on Bausch's working atmosphere are offered by the dancers over footage of their mute, posed headshots. Preparations for dancing in the theatre are shown, as well as the occasional shot of the back of the first few rows of the audience. It's a stubbornly artistic attempt to homogenise the mode of expression.

I appreciate that this is a consistent way of approaching this film. However, I longed for a little more straightforward discussion to offset the dance rather than a stream of inarticulate platitude and pretentious gloss which actually rather muddles the art on show. This isn't just as I am a dance ignoramus. It also affects the integrity of the recreated dance and the film in which it's couched. The Cafe Müller discussion is a particular lost opportunity, with the reconvened production team failing to string a sentence together, whilst the gripping dance is chopped up to accommodate it.

I'm not sure that the 3D arrangement lends all that much to the film - the extra dimension does enrich the experience. However the technology still can't remove ghost images, blurred motion or translucent patches in well-lit sequences. Certainly, compared to the inconvenience of having to wear the wretched spectacles and suffering the subsequently darkened images it's a meagre return. Still, for all my resistance I did find myself rather absorbed by the dance at its centre, which, as a triumph for Bausch, stands for something. 6/10
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Avoid, avoid, avoid!
modrnknght2 April 2012
I went to see this last night, and though I barely retained my sanity to the end, there were many times I wanted to go screaming from the movie theater.

Most of the film is filled with weirdly interpretive dance sequences that were crazy enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall (some of the dancers actually did that during dances), but maybe it wouldn't have been so horrible if we were told what they were supposed to be interpreting. I discussed it with one other person (there were only four of us in the entire theater) and I said to her that "Okay, she wasn't crazy because these people swore loyalty to her for so many years, but from these, she was crazy." Let me give you a few examples...

A dancer comes out with two pieces of meat, and yells, "This is veal!" And then she dances for several minutes with the veal in her ballet slippers.

One male dancer is walking along and another places a branch on his right shoulder, then another on a left shoulder, crux of the elbow, and so on, until he has several balanced on different parts of his body.

A female carries a pillow on a real subway, making monstrous noises with every step, while a make dancer sits at the back of the subway car wearing some kind of weird animal-type ears.

One female dancer carries a potted tree on her back around a lake. No dancing, just carries a potted tree around on her back.

One woman throws shovels of dirt at a crouching female dancer.

This is just a small group of examples. The film had two hours of similar W-T-F routines!!!

It is no wonder the dancers in the film all looked so miserable when interviewed! I am hoping to flood myself with other images from TV or wherever now in order to wipe out those memories caused by this film.
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For lovers of interpretative dance only, and OK but not great 3D.
f_alcon19 September 2011
For lovers of interpretative dance only, and perhaps those who also enjoy dance movements without context. A few OK dances and some good dance movements, but as they are without context (obvious given the style) there is no framework to place them - hence they make "no sense". At almost 2 hours your patience might wear thin, should you not be a fan of this type of dance.

The 3D is OK, but unnecessary and adds nothing to the dancescape. Best 3D is still Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (present in approximately 90% of film); PINA only has noticeable 3D in approximately 40% of the film. But there are a handful of wonderful stereoscopic photographic shots - just not enough to justify the 3D price for this film.
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Light, via Light, for Light
tedg19 February 2012
It seems the idea about biography — the standard biography — is to be exposed to great souls. The greater and more complex the better, and as long as we stay coherent, the more exposure the better. Apparently German filmmaker Wenders had for decades planned such an exposure of Pina Bausch.

She surely is a banquet of a soul, and any film that captures morsels would be worth it. I was not aware of her before being introduced by a trusted friend, and now I am hungry for more. She is something of a radical in dance, a Rolfer of motion.

Dance for her is something you must do, you must. Her troupe is drawn from all over the world and we see them all here: intense beauties, throwing their lives. She seems to have touched every one of them with some deep insight into the linkage among the urge to live, the danger of movement and the fearlessness to let go. Of each of these faces, the film has one minute or so, with their voice over stating some way that Pina pulled 'size' from them. Then usually we see that soul in motion.

Sometimes we are captivated, sometimes simply thrilled. Once in a while we must puzzle about something that seems just silly. But the fact that the same disciplined passion can be brought to it all makes the puzzling bits all the more valuable. Pina died immediately before the thing was made and one wonders what she would have let show, what she would have rejected, because it seems so uneven.

We have a disconnect here that may not be so obvious on the first round through. Wenders is a skilled filmmaker, but his approach is storytelling. Staging and motion is in his films only as one of several devices to tell a story. Pina is superficially in the same mold: her choreography has 'explanations' attached and the tone is overtly theatrical, but this is of a completely different nature.

We are in Pina's world as an *artifact* of the performance, an essential entity like a floor, and by no stretch the nexus. We are there to be performed to, to be scared, to be shined upon so that the dancers will know they have light. But they are also scaring and performing for themselves, each other, even for the floor. The moment matters. Short form — the immediate — is the only form for Pina.

Wenders in contrast is a long form guy, a relative pedestrian. What he brings is a disciplined, cold eye that can capture with perfection. His filmmaking has no passion, no risk, only craft.

I have to admit that I greatly admire what he did here, though I did not see it in the lauded 3D format. His staging (sometimes tricky) and some of the dance edits are wonderful. But I had the feeling that I had radios tuned to two different German-speaking stations and had to consciously switch my attention from the cinema to the dance. It would have been wonderful if we had DVD extras that just let a dance go without the cinematic imposition.

The one German filmmaker that I find worthwhile is Herzog, and that is because he is more like Pina than Wenders. He takes risks; in his early days these were also physically dangerous. His films are not very intellectual, but have visceral energy that seems to have been dug from Nature's absolute core. I wonder if he had attempted this film if there would have been a clash, a competition of such digging.

Perhaps it is wise to have Wenders, a placid but attentive viewer intermediate for us. But see, then we allow him to make the decision for us about how committed we can be in terms of reach into the space of these dances. And I want more depth — not the perception of depth, but participation in the fluid skin.

The only extra on this region 2 (!) DVD was a short interview with Wenders with such poor sound one wonders what he was thinking.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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An interesting experiment that fails as a documentary
Deathstryke29 January 2012
"Pina" was a mixed bag for me. I'm an avid fan of dance, but I will admit I was never that familiar with Pina Bausch's repertoire. I didn't know much about her going into the film and unfortunately I knew just as little leaving the theatre.

"Pina" is less a documentary than a montage of tributes to her memory, performed affectionately by members of her academy past and present. It also showcases snippets from her most famous works over the last 3 decades. Visually the film is spectacular and is probably one of the few films I've seen this year to actually benefit from being in stereoscopic 3-D. The sense of depth is powerful and involving for the audience, making them feel like they are in the midst of the dancers as they twirl, sweat, leap and thrash about the stage.

The imagery is stark, painterly and epic at times, most notably in extracts from the dark, primal piece "The Rite Of Spring" in which the dancers' anguished, fearful expressions tell a hundred stories. Throughout the film there are moments of artistic genius, surreal giggles and feats of awe-inspiring technical skill. However there are also those unavoidable moments of sheer boredom, confusion and eye-rolling pomposity, which unfortunately for me, summed up the bulk of the experience.

At around 40 minutes in, I began to feel the film's length and its initial intrigue soon turned into an endurance test. Structurally it is a pell-mell assortment of dance excerpts, interviews and the odd sepia hued shot of Pina rehearsing or conveying words of wisdom to her students. Very little is said about the woman herself except that she was a perfectionist and a passionate lover of art; a vignette that could be used to describe most people in the world of performance, I would think. Every so often the dancing would break to reveal a past colleague or pupil of hers hamming into the camera while an effusive voice-over recalled the little clichéd anecdotes she would offer to inspire each one of them to dance, a method which in my view felt insincere and unsatisfying.

With so little factual information given about the artist, I could only engage on a superficial, sensory level with the dancing. As I mentioned, one cannot help being captivated by the visceral power of "The Rite of Spring", or the frantic humour of "Dance Hall", but some of the tribute pieces just seemed abstract to the point of being inaccessible and annoying. For example: a man dressed in a tutu rides a mining cart doing ballet squats. He falls on his back, gets up and starts squatting again. This happens several times until the cart slowly and puzzlingly rolls out of frame. In another scene, entitled "Lean on Me" the camera trucks out on a woman in a yellow dress swaying precariously from side to side into the arms of a man. It all looks very elegant, however the same concept appears earlier in another tribute, with a different couple, only the woman falls face first instead of sideways. The repetition of motifs in dance is to be expected, but in so many different pieces all randomly edited together the amount of repetition is staggering. I could almost predict when a dancer was going to fall to the floor and spasm, whip their hair back and gesture to their heart. By the time the scene of the woman getting soil shovelled on her back arrived, I felt sufficiently numb enough to walk out, which I would've done had my dancer friends not been sitting bug eyed with rapt attention either side of me.

I think had Wenders given a more honest investigation into Pina's life and perhaps left the more bizarre and uninspiring tribute clips as DVD extras, it might've been a better film. I must say, any future dance features should be shot in 3-D, because if "Pina" hadn't benefited so much from this medium I probably wouldn't have given it a 5/10.
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rajan242024 September 2011
Rotten Tomatoes have given a 91 approval rating.

A very boring film from an "intellectually" acclaimed European director. So automatically, the film gets a high rating in America.

Never have been a fan of Wenders.

I sat through arduously "Vista Social Club". Another much hyped film.

Apart from one song performance, that was worth watching, the rest was uninteresting.

I bought the blu-ray version in Paris. I was obliged to pay for 3d version, too.

On the back jacket, the screen version is supposed to be 2:40. Well, in fact it is only 1.85.

The Dts sound was pale.

If you want to see an interesting film on Pina, watch "Les Reves Dansants".

If you want a fantastic performance of Le Sacre de Printemps de Stravinski, watch the beginning of Coco Chanel.
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A Loving Tribute to a Genius
Yves La Pointe30 January 2012
Wim Wenders was planning a film about Pina Bausch before her sudden death from cancer in 2010, so the film that he has made has become a loving tribute to one of the most innovative choreographers of the 20th century. The film opens with a simple explanation of how to dance by presenting the four seasons in four simple movements, if you watch it closely or repeat it, you can do it yourself. From these simple movements with the hands, Pina gives you a sense of the joy of dance, but it was from these elemental movements that she developed some of the most complex, and physically demanding pieces of 'dance theatre' which never lose a sense of poetry and expression, be it pain, violence, sarcasm, childishness, joy or love. She was capable, as the film shows at the outset, of creating new ways of seeing now standard ballets like The Rite of Spring; and capable of using her childhood experiences in the Ruhr, where her parents owned a run-down hotel-restaurant, in Cafe Muller. But her works were collaborations with the dancers and mostly developed from themes rather than stories which is what made her work difficult for some audiences to understand, were they ever lucky enough to see the company. Wenders offers the dancers their chance to say how Pina got them to perform -some say nothing but express their thoughts in dance, often in the streets or on the overhead train in Wuppertal where Pina's theatre was based. One dancer says: She said to me: Think about Joy, and from that she created a sequence in Vollmond that is exhilarating and wonderful to see. I haven't seen the 3D version but I have to say the dancing is superb, and while the primary focus is on the works rather than the person, Pina emerges as an intense, difficult, but loving person who generated equally intense loyalty among the members of her company. Wenders own impeccable artistic integrity has produced one of the best films about dance, and one of the best documentaries ever made.
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zetes26 February 2012
This is probably Wenders' best in years, although I admit I've skipped everything he's made since the terrible The End of Violence back in 1997. This is great, whatever the case. It's a very unconventional documentary about choreographer Pina Bausch. Well, not really. It's about her work. There's almost no biographical information throughout the film. All we really learn is that she was a choreographer, and that she's dead. I don't even think the film mentions her surname until the credits. This is all about her work, which Wenders stages with former members of her troupe. It's all about the dancing, and if you love dancing, well, this film is a real treat. The dancing is quite unconventional itself. Occasionally there would be dances with which I was not enamored, but the vast majority I loved. Apparently, this was made to be seen in 3D, but, as usual, I doubt it's worth the eye strain. It's perfectly spectacular in 2D.
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Without dance we are lost
uroskin17 December 2011
When I was a young whippersnapper, the youth club where I hung out at offered a course in modern dance, just for fun, mind you, not to eventually do a public performance. My good friend Riet was the course leader and I remember (this is about 35 years ago) her talking about this German choreographer woman Pina Bausch. The quite physical intensity of the weekly course I still enjoy having taken part in because it was just such enormous fun to try and express emotions into dance. I particularly remember trying out falling in love with a bare wall and how to explain that to it. Ms Bausch sadly passed away two years ago just before a film about her work and life was about to start shooting by Wim Wenders. I watched the resulting documentary at our local marvellous little Waiheke cinema and the focus is very much on her troupe, with only token but poignant archive material of her choreographing and dancing in some of her productions. Had she lived longer the film would have had very different focus, more about her, how she worked and where she got her artistic creativity from. But as it is, her dancers explain what it was like working with her, for her and how she got into their heads (and they into hers). A raft of extracts from her productions gives an excellent overview and feel for what she did, but there is very little background information on how any of the dance theatre pieces were developed, which leaves you a bit baffled if you have no idea who she is and why she is a pivotal figure in modern dance and theatre. Some is quite hard to watch (some critics say her work has to be experienced rather than watched) but I thought several pieces were exhilarating and I would have loved to join in, especially "Vollmond". I must add that a fantastic guest role in the documentary is performed by the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. It's such a cool piece of public transport kit!
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Too personal and specific to make a difference
Warning: Spoilers
"Pina" is a German, 100-minute movie from 4 years ago. It was nominated at the BAFTAs (Foreign Language Film) and Oscars (Documentary) and was famous filmmaker Wim Wenders' tribute to the late dancer and dance choreographer Pina Bausch. Wenders held the eulogy at her funeral, so I assume the two were friends and pretty close. The film basically consists of interviews with Bausch, her dancers and also many dance scenes. It is probably Wenders' most known work in recent years, especially with the awards recognition it received.

Unfortunately, as much as I like the director, I cannot say I was too impressed here. It is not a film that got me interested in the multi-layered world of dancing. You already need to have a profound interest before watching in order to appreciate this film or, in a best-case-scenario, either be a dancer himself or have a personal connection to Bausch. I must say I did not even know her. She was certainly not particularly famous to the general public, even here in Germany. There weren't many sequences in this documentary that I found captivating or memorable, not to say any at all. If you have no real connection with dance or aren't a huge Wenders fan, you can skip this movie and you will not be missing much. Not recommended.
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