Wim Wenders’ 3-D film PINA, a tribute to the late German contemporary choreographer Pina Bausch, is a whirlwind of breathtaking artistry from start to finish.
The camera takes you on a journey both on stage with the dancers at the legendary Tanztheater, and then outside the theater as the dancers perform in the city and surrounding areas of Wuppertal, the place that was the center for Bausch’s creativity for 35 years. Wenders films the dancers of Bausch’s company performing some of her most notable pieces including “Le Sacre du printemps,” “Café Muller,” “Vollmond,” and “Kontakthof.”
Bausch passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in early 2009, just as Wenders, the dancers, and crew were getting ready to start the filming phase of the project. Wenders immediately stopped preparations convinced that the film could not go on without Bausch. However, after a period of mourning and reflection and encouraged by many close to Bausch, Wenders decided in spite of the great loss, now was the moment to capture her great choreography, and present the film as a tribute to her work.
Whether you’ve seen Bausch’s choreography before, or are experiencing it for the first time, PINA captures everything raw and genuine which are the hallmarks of her choreography. The realness of movement can be almost startling, and those accustomed to watching perfectly beautiful ballet performances might question whether they are watching dance at all. Yet that raw movement is in fact what makes this film, and Bausch’s collection of choreographic works over many years, so genuinely beautiful after all.
One memorable sequence takes place during the performance of “Café Muller,” when a female dancer repeatedly falls from the arms of a male dancer to immediately get back up, embrace, and fall again. The sequence happens over, and over, and over again with increased intensity. This simple yet powerful pattern speaks so loudly to the repetitions experienced in relationships, and in life in general on a daily basis.
As the trailer for the film quite aptly asks, “Is it dance? Is it theatre? Or is it just life?” The film is certainly all three, and will leave you thinking about what you watched long after the credits roll.