Pina, the movie

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Admittedly this post will likely end up being filed under Reviews since I need to file it somewhere, but I should state that I don’t feel as though I can really give it a formal educated review for two reasons: 1. I had very little exposure to Pina Bausch prior to seeing this movie and 2. I read a bunch of reviews after seeing it so I don’t feel like I can be impartial.

Anyone who hasn’t gone to see this movie while it is in theatres is missing out. I loved this movie so much I’ve been to see it twice and could probably be convinced to see it again.  I think it is worth mentioning that the first time I went with my nine year old son who sat through the entire 1hr and 45min without complaining or falling asleep.  (I used to call Aleister my little “sucko-meter” because I’d take him to performances and if he didn’t like it or got bored then it definitely sucked, but if he was riveted to watch then it was good – kids are honest. They don’t intellectualize why they should like something.)  So tested by the best and already winning awards from others, it goes without saying that Pina is a great movie.

For those of you not in the know, Pina is a feature-length dance film in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer who died in 2009.  Pina Bausch was a very influential modern dance choreographer and created very emotionally dramatic works that can be fall easily in the realm of dance theatre.  Let me just say that 3D movies often make me motion-sick so my first thought while putting on the glasses was a snobbish one “Why do they assume that in order for dance to be amazing on film we need to see it in 3D? Dance can stand on its own, damnit! Besides, 3D is so gauche,” but oh how I was wrong.  The effect was anything but tacky and I found out later that the maker of the film, Wim Winders, chose 3D specifically to highlight Pina’s works as Winders felt there was no other medium in which you could get a sense of the real performance.  I have to agree.  The film weaves the audience through some of Pina Bausch’s major works, with interviews, solos, and duets, from the dancers sprinkled throughout.  The vignette device makes the film very accessible although I would have liked to see Café Müller without interuption – the effect from the sustained drama of the piece is lost I think.  What makes this film especially gorgeous is the dances are filmed in many different locations throughout Wuppertal, from industrial buildings to cliff sides. One solo is set next to an indoor pool where it appears swim practice is going on as usual (Hey, they always say “don’t run” near the pool, but I’ve never heard, “don’t dance,” heh.)  The effect of the various locations is stunning and inspiring.  You can imagine, being someone who loves to dance, well, everywhere possible, that I was just beside myself with pleasure. 

The last great thing I want to mention about this movie is that the cast of dancers, which are Pina Bausch’s own ensemble, vary in age from approximately twenty to sixty.  It was so strikingly refreshing to see older dancers that it made me want to go live in Europe where you see more of this kind of thing. And I’m not praising them here because I’m trying to advocate against agism.  Nothing so heroically political as that.  I liked it simply because the older weathered dancers were so delicious to watch.  Their movements are distilled – their emotions so palapable, their stories deep. I love seeing older dancers, not only because I’m headed there (aren’t we all?), but because every year, they really do just get better.

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