Pina (2011)

pina poster 2011 movie wim wenders
8.5 Overall Score

Great visuals, a universal feel to the pieces

Primarily just dance for those expecting more of a documentary

Movie Info

Movie Name: Pina

Studio: Neue Road Movies

Genre(s): Documentary/Musical

Release Date(s):  February 13, 2011 (Berlin International Film Festival)/February 24, 2011 (Germany)/December 23, 2011 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

pina bausch rite of spring documentary

Yes…they are doing some dance thing…and she’s upset about something…that’s all I’ve got

When Pina Bausch died in 2009, Wim Wenders was in the process of making a documentary about her life and her influence on dance.  Planning to shut down the production, the members of Pina’s dance troupe decided to go on with the project as an honor to their leader.  The dancers tell Pina’s story through her art and choreography…”Dance, Dance, Otherwise We Are Lost”.

Directed by Wim Wenders, Pina is a musical dance documentary about the life of Pina Bausch (July 27, 1940-June 30, 2009).  The film was well received upon its release and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.  The Criterion Collection released a version of the film (Criterion #644).

Watching Pina, I came to a few assumptions…the primarily one is that I know nothing about dance and even less about modern dance.  Despite this, there is something universal about the movie and the freedom of the dancers in the film.  As they move across various stages and locations, you can enjoy the film on a different level even if you don’t know what their movement is meant tell and imply.

pina bausch hippo dance

Everyone loves a hippo!

Don’t go into Pina expecting a documentary outlining the life of Pina Bausch.  It doesn’t really talk about how she found dance, found her voice in dance, and became known as a founder of modern dance.  Instead, the movie lightly touches on Pina’s life and instead focuses on what her life meant to people around her.  The dancing is interjected with close-ups of the dancers.  Sometimes they talk, other times they stare at the camera and let the dancing talk.  Honestly, you can often glaze over the narration as you get sucked into some of the dances.  They aren’t a distraction, but they sometimes feel secondary.

The movie is quite visual.  It was shot in 3D, and it is one of the few movies I think would be more enjoyable in 3D.  The depth and feel of the stage and location could be interesting in 3D and help present what the dancers are doing.  The film is loaded with bright colors and even the locations are interesting and visual.

pina baush vollmond rain dance documentary

They’re dancin’ in the rain

No dance “knowledge” isn’t the worst thing that can happen when you watch Pina.  Knowing some about stage and stage performances, I can see a lot of difficulties in Pina’s work.  Introducing water and dirt to a stage opens up additional complexity for the sets and the dancers performing in them.  While there is choreography, the dance seems more fluid and more random than something like a ballet.  The difficulty of pulling it off comes across regardless of your level of knowledge of the art.

Pina is worth seeking out even if you aren’t into dance.  It is the type of mind expanding documentary which would probably make Pina happy by challenging non-dancers to try to understand what is being presented.  The dancing in the film has a certain joy that I don’t feel I see when I have seen ballet.  The dancers seem to be free to express themselves instead of just the choreographer’s vision.  The effect is something that you can see in music videos and live performances today.  Give Pina a chance even if dancing “isn’t your bag”…it still can reach you.

Related Links:

The 84th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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