The documentary Dancing Dreams (2010) by Rainer Hoffmann and Anne Linsel recently graced our screens, with its depiction of young dancers and the beautiful choreography of Pina Bausch. In 1955, at the age of 14, Bausch entered the Folkwangschule in Essen, there to be taught by Germany’s perhaps most influential choreographer, Kurt Jooss, who was one of the founders of German Expressionist dance. Bausch, who passed away in 2009, followed in his footseps, and Wim Wenders‘ Pina (2011) is an impassioned response to the earlier film, paying tribute to Bausch as it does in an archetypally flamboyant Wenders style.
Bausch’s most famous works include Café Müller (1978), which sees its dancers hurling themselves around the stage and crashing into tables and chairs, and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1975), which has the stage completely covered with soil. In reality, however, Pina is less a portrait of the choreographer than a ‘dance yourself dizzy’ spectacle, but it is still without doubt the best chance you will have to become familiar with the very particular but enchanting style that could be no one else but Bausch.
Wenders brings together all the dancers in the late choreographer’s company to dance The Rite of Spring, forming a simply breathtaking backdrop that is interspersed with the dancers recounting their memories and anecdotes concerning Bausch.
And in 3D? Well, in lesser hands than Wenders’, it might have emerged as a cheap (if increasingly popular) gimmick, but in fact it brings a depth of field that makes the choreography even more impressive. As viewers, we live, breath and sweat with the dancers, perceiving their every move – after the first few minutes, you’ll forget that you’re wearing glasses, promise.
Further, Wenders’ decision is a bold and intelligent move, because it will hopefully encourage other directors to implement the rejuvenated 3D format away from blockbusters and animated films. It’s a slim chance, I know, but here’s hoping and, on the strength of Wenders’ film, documentaries may well provide a fertile hotbed for cinema that is both imaginative, entertaining and informative.
106 mins. In German, French, English, Spanish, Croatian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Korean.