4 user 37 critic

Cunningham (2019)

2:12 | Trailer
The iconic Merce Cunningham and the last generation of his dance company is stunningly profiled in Alla Kovgan's 3D documentary, through recreations of his landmark works and archival footage of Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg.


Alla Kovgan


Alla Kovgan
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Carolyn Brown Carolyn Brown ... Self
John Cage John Cage ... Self (archive footage)
Ashley Chen Ashley Chen ... Self
Brandon Collwes Brandon Collwes ... Self
Dylan Crossman Dylan Crossman ... Self
Julie Cunningham Julie Cunningham ... Self
Jennifer Goggans Jennifer Goggans ... Self
Lindsey Jones Lindsey Jones ... Self
Cori Kresge Cori Kresge ... Self
Daniel Madoff Daniel Madoff ... Self
Rashaun Mitchell Rashaun Mitchell ... Self
Marcie Munnerlyn Marcie Munnerlyn ... Self
Robert Rauschenberg Robert Rauschenberg ... Self (archive footage)
Silas Riener Silas Riener ... Self
Glen Rumse Glen Rumse ... Self


Even for those who know little about dance, Merce Cunningham is a recognizable name - an iconic figure in his field. His mid-20th century collaborations with composer John Cage (his lifelong partner) and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg were central to an era of transformation. Cunningham resisted "avant-garde" or any other label. "I don't describe it. I do it," he once said. Now, with Cunningham, we have a chance to experience what he did. Filmmaker Alla Kovgan assembles the last generation of Cunningham dancers (led by Merce Cunningham Dance Company assistant director of choreography Jennifer Goggans) to present landmark works from the Cunningham repertoire. The film concentrates on the three decades from 1942 to 1972 when Cunningham was making his reputation. Gorgeously shot in 3D, Cunningham brings us closer to these works than any audience has ever been before. Taking an inventive approach with locations, the film places dancers in evocative backdrops such as a tunnel, a ... Written by Toronto International Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A 3D cinematic experience about legendary American choreographer Merce Cunningham See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some smoking | See all certifications »

User Reviews

Notes from a long conversation with my girlfriend after leaving the cinema
4 November 2019 | by thisisforspam579See all my reviews

  • Great to see a film about dancing! A relatively unexplored sub-genre of documentary, and Cunningham was welcome for this alone. It adds to a hole that I suppose Wenders' Pina opened.

  • On that note, this film should not have been shot in 3d, which added nothing but nausia. We expect the 3d was entirely for the purpose of (a) copying Pina and, relatedly, (b) getting funding. But Cunningham's dances are far less spectacular and their presentation here likewise. The 3d only distracts from the movement in all but one Warhol-involved set, especially when edited with 2d archival.

  • First half entertaining, second boring. The film progresses at a monotonous pace: one thing happens and then another and then another. No real conflict or tension.

Which is a problem. Because there evidently was plenty of this, but only in reality. The movie, on the other hand, brushes past unconvincingly. No one in the film is given space apart from Cunningham - everyone else speaks to convince the audience how great he is. I wanted to hear from one of his female dancers honestly, in long form, of the darkness of Cunningham. This would help to flesh out his character, give us something to chew on, and organise the film into a narrative. As is, we grew progressively distrusting and disengaged with the Greatest Hits/ Victory Lap tone, before the film ends suddenly with the news that all his dancers left.

  • Ultimately we were left unconvinced that Cunningham (the dancer) was all that interesting. Fashionable certainly, he's attached to the right people, and I'm sure it would be great to be dancing as him, but the just-over-half-full prime-time-at-the-festival cinema was an endless circuit of yawns.

  • Nevertheless we feel cultured now.

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Germany | France | USA



Release Date:

13 December 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cunningham See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,422, 15 December 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color | Color (Action)| Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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