Pina (tbc)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Circumstances dictate that Pina is much more of a performance film than the documentary it was presumably intended to be and the talking heads seem a little superfluous as a result, but as a showcase for her work the film is extremely impressive and the 3D technology is put to spectacular use.

What's it all about?
Directed by Wim Wenders, Pina was intended to be a 3D documentary about the work of celebrated dancer-choreographer Pina Bausch. However, Bausch died in 2009, just before production on the film was due to start, so instead the film stands as part showcase, part celebration of her work, interspersed with the occasional talking head and archive clip.

The film focuses on four pieces in particular, performed both on stage and in exterior locations by Bausch's Tanztheater company in Wuppertal: Cafe Muller (on a stage littered with tables and chairs), The Rites of Spring (which occasionally resembles a male vs female dance-off from one of Hollywood's urban dance movies, particularly when we get to the water-based bit, which is amusingly reminiscent of the Step Up 2 finale), Kontakhof (about social dance, with dance-hall dancers of various ages) and Vollmond, which takes place on a stage covered in earth. There are also some wonderful dance vignettes, such as a man being attacked by a dog in a park (unless that was a happy accident – it's hard to tell) and a surreal piece involving a woman's relationship with a giant hippo.

The Good
As with the recent Carmen in 3D, Pina was shot using the latest in 3D camera technology, so you occasionally feel as if you're standing on stage with the dancers. At any rate, the results are extraordinary, vividly bringing Pina's work to life; indeed, fans of Pina's work and modern ballet in general can probably go ahead and add an extra star.

The Bad
The problem is that Pina is essentially just a performance movie and the various talking heads tell us very little about Pina's life and don't add any particular insights into her working methods. Similarly, if you're not a dance fan, the pieces eventually seem repetitive, especially when shorn of context and if Wenders is intending to make any deeper points or a comment, say, on the virtues or otherwise of live performance versus filmed performance, then that fails to come across.

Worth seeing?
The 3D camerawork and performances are undeniably spectacular but the documentary element of the film feels under-developed and the film fails to engage on an emotional level, or at least, it does if you're not a dance enthusiast.

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Content updated: 23/06/2018 18:41

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