3 Jan

Title: Pina
Year: 2011
Director: Win Wenders
Writer: Win Wenders
Starring: Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo
MPAA Rating: PG, some sensuality/partial nudity and smoking
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metacritic: 75


Pina is an unbelievable film, it’s also one of the very best documentaries of the year; hell, it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in quite a few years. It’s an enchanting film, and one that, I imagine, will only be more enchanting to those that actually practice dancing, and, for those of us that don’t, will only make you truly appreciate it as an incredibly moving and powerful art form. It’s a film that presents some of the most notable pieces by Pina Bausch, a choreographer who, for more than three decades, was one of the leading influences in the world of modern dance until her death in 2009 whilst this film was being prepared. Director Wim Wenders, a longtime friend of Bausch, cancelled production upon learning of her death, but was later encouraged, by the dancers, and given consent from the Bausch family, to still make it, now as an homage to his great, late friend, a love letter to the art she helped shape.

The result is nothing less than breathtaking, a seriously magical experience of the world of dance, with Mr. Wenders crafting a seriously beautiful celebration of both the actual work of his friend and, perhaps even more compellingly, of the way Pina Bausch worked, which makes for one seriously fascinating film. Another master European filmmaker, Pedro Almodóvar, used Bausch’s dance ‘Café Müller’ as a moment of truly incredible emotion in his sublime Hable Con Ella. It’s an amazing piece, and the second of four sections that Mr. Wenders uses to grant us a look into the world of Pina Bausch, and it’s the perfect showcase for what the style and aesthetic of the late choreographer was all about; about emotions running free, with dancers enacting some really incredible stories full of power, danced here in Pina everywhere, from traditional stages to forest fields.

There’s no actual plot in Pina, though, no actual narration, no distinctive chronological structure to it. But the dances serve as kind of short films, stories filled with desire and sex, not explicit, but implicit, overwhelming emotions that are just jumping out of the screen ready to get to you, everything is just so well accomplished by Bausch that you really do get to appreciate her genius in this film. And, to the credit of both Bausch and Mr. Wenders, this is probably the only dance film that feels like a fully harmonized meeting of both the art of filmmaking and the one of dance, as opposed to just as a film about dancing or a dance caught on film. Pina is both film and a dance coming fully alive, and it’s a joy to watch unfold.

As we get to experience these excerpts from the four pieces Mr. Wenders chooses to show us, as well as solos and duets from members of the dance company, we’re always being show the love these people have for their art and for the woman that made it so much richer throughout her entire life. Their admiration for Bausch is incredible to behold, you see them, in the interviews with dancers Mr. Wenders weaves in between dances, glowing when talking about her, with all of them coming from different places, speaking different languages, looking very different from each other, arriving at the same conclusion; Pina Bausch was an unending source of inspiration for them, encouraging them to surprise her, to let loose and be free with their bodies, to just go crazy. These declarations may sound cliché at parts, words being dubbed over the head shots of the interviewees, but, as you’ll attest upon watching Pina, letting loose and going crazy is exactly what you’ll want to do, too.

Pina is an homage, a love letter, a memorial of a magical kind, a resurrection of the woman through the art she created. And the images evoked by Mr. Wenders here are a fitting way to show just how amazing she was, and while there’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions shown in this film, of which sadness and sorrow are most certainly a part of, Mr. Wenders closes this film with happiness, the troupe of dancers that live for the art one woman helped define gleefully keeping the art of a recently mourned woman more alive than ever, and that’s just fantastic to watch. Also fantastic to watch, I should note, is the fact that the dancers shown in this film are of all ages possible, which I loved, watching people over sixty and upwards, and watching kids of some of the members of the troupe. I say this because in an age in which films seem to be obsessed with youth, Pina shows how much of a range of emotions, of expressions come with age, both young and old; an really simple and yet effective way to show what Pina Bausch was all about, about being free and just doing what you loved. I, for one, just love the hell out of this film.

Grade: A-


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