A documentary which removes the interviewer and the interviewee from the film, "Pina" allows only dancing figures, voice overs, a few close friends, and Pina herself to speak.
Wim Wenders' "Pina" is a love ballad for the choreography of Pina Bausch, whose work was a mixture of beautiful, bizarre, and visually arresting moves. Wenders obviously realized the impact on the eyes that Bausch's dances had, so he takes it another step further. Using stunning imagery and jaw-dropping cinematography, Wenders is able to suck the viewer into the odd place of Bausch's mind.
There is no narrative, there is no structure besides the choreography...doing this was the best decision that Wenders could have possibly made.
A naturalistic observer, the earth takes a large part in Pina's dances. Water, wind, soil, sand—they are all used terribly effectively.
Pina herself died shortly before the movie started filming, thus everything had to change. Instead of being an homage to Pina's dances, the film is an homage to Pina.
Those interview are never allowed to speak while facing the camera, their face is seen and their voice is heard. These are the dancers, those whose life Pina helped mold into what it is now.
Some of the daces are striking and frightening. Take her interpretation of The Rite of Spring, which is, at best, disjointed.
But then, there are pieces like Café Müller which transcend their medium. Café Müller requires all the dancers to travel around the stage with their eyes closed. It's this kind of routine where Bausch's influence is really seen...I can recall a trailer for the newest season of "American Horror Story" that is similar in many ways.
Bausch was never cruel with her dance studio Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, she allowed those from all ages to join. Her studio wasn't about technique, though that was still a huge part of it. Instead, it was all about the feeling.
One man says that she wanted him to create the moon...and he does. He stands on an escalator and waves his arms around, drawing waves and circle in the air. He maintains his place for a long time by walking backwards on the escalator, then he lets himself drift off—like the moon fading from the sky.
Other dances by Bausch are sexually aggressive, but most of them have something to do with nature.
At times, "Pina" seems like a puff away from being the perfect movie to watch while stoned—like when a dancer with a leaf blower is chasing around the leaves in a part...or when a woman recounts a dance where she had to fall in love with a hippopotamus. It's easy to brush off these moments as insignificant.
But there is much to analyze in "Pina"...instead of themes and metaphors, we have to analyze the dances. There are deathly scenes that remind us of our mortality...when a woman shovels soil onto another woman. Other dances remind us how important visual beauty is to us...men and women line up and pull back their hair, show their teeth, turn to the side, and stand up straight. But you could also view the dance as a commentary on aging, for the film interweaves young and old dancers in its editing.
Most every dancer claims that at one time they did not understand Pina or her dancers...but there's something more important here—loosing yourself to the dance.
These dancers trust Pina, wherever they think she may be now, and let themselves go, It's liberating to watch.
In filming the way that Wenders has, he has stripped bare the pretentiousness and the awkwardness, leaving the core of the film in tact. For "Pina" is a movie that is about dance, by filming the dance as it was meant to be seen, Wenders reveals the artist's soul.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars