Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Pina’ Review: A Stunningly Shot 3D Documentary

A fantastic new way to see how 3D is capable of telling a story properly, rather throwing it into an overrated action movie or children’s animation feature.

Pina tells the story of German choreographer Pina Bausch through the eyes and movement of her acclaimed ensemble, the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Bausch was named choreographer by the director of Wuppertal’s theatres, Arno Wüstenhöfer in 1973 and began to achieve international recognition sometime after.

Director and writer Wim Wenders and his beloved friend Bausch, both agreed to film four of her most celebrated dance sequences, Le Sacre du Printemps, Café Muller, Kontakthof and Vollmond for a movie.

Bausch’s unexpected death halted production for Wenders, but with the influence of the ensemble, Wenders continued to film the story and gave the documentary a new focus. The dancers from around the world spoke of their loss in their own languages and how Bausch influenced them looking directly at the camera in quick headshots or in a voice-over. Though the headshots seem out of place at first, it’s a simplistic visual we see of the performer that gives balance to the artistic documentary.

The indoor choreographed dances were stunning to watch because they were filmed up close and personal, as if we the viewer were onstage too. What struck me in this film though was the outdoor dance scenes. They are a breathtaking part to the film and gave us a glimpse of Bausch’s interesting teaching techniques.

Bausch wouldn’t necessarily tell her dancers exactly what to do, but would instead give them encouragement and ideas. In the film she even told one dancer, “You need to get crazier,” and it was with that influence that the dancers developed the personality behind their character and particular movements that made them unforgettable.

Bausch only appears in the film through archival footage, where we see her instruct her dancers and perform her signature role in Café Muller. The audience may feel a bit robbed of her personal involvement in the documentary, but her story is truly told through the eyes of her ensemble and it’s just fabulous to watch.

Where Pina loses speed is the fact that its an hour and 45 minutes long and it probably could’ve been about an hour and ten.

Although, Pina drags on quite a bit, its much more than a biopic, its a beautifully shot film dedicated to those who express life through dance.

Pina has been nominated as a Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.

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