With the second coming of 3D, Wenders has finally found his format, lending Pina the depth it was crying out for.
There are some things in life that leave you speechless. This is how the late dancer Pina Bausch described the human impulse to dance. As her dedicated troupe makes serpentine movements across the stage, Bausch’s presence in Wim Wenders’ film is like that of a silent snake charmer. Her followers hypnotically fling themselves through movements; transforming bodies into endless expressions.
Having known Bausch for 20 years, Wenders waited almost as long to make a film that would dutifully pay homage to the founder of Germany's Tanztheater Wuppertal. With the second coming of 3D, Wenders has finally found his format, lending Pina the depth it was crying out for. Although this isn’t the first film to combine dance and 3D (step forward StreetDance 3D), it’s the first that isn’t tailored exclusively for popcorn poppers and teenie boppers.
With the potential to turn highbrow critics’ and arthouse aficionados’ frowns upside down, Wenders’ delicately provocative film could give 3D the My Fair Lady moment it’s been yearning for. The expressive dance of the Tanztheater is, in actual fact, anything but prim and proper. Energised by Bausch’s mantra – ‘dance, dance, otherwise we are lost’ – the dancers pulsate in tribal movements across both the stage and various industrial locations around Wuppertal.
It is in these instances that Wenders makes the most of the 3D; superimposing indoors onto outdoors with a sort of tracing paper editing. Watching a dancer from his partner’s point-of-view is a spectacular experience in itself – one that not even live performance can offer. In other words, Pina is a film that doesn’t simply profit from 3D, but one that needs to be seen in 3D.
Elements of the surreal may make Pina memorable – a woman dancing with a hippopotamus will provide some much-needed relief – but while some of the performances in the film take their inspiration from the circus, unlike other 3D adventures, this one doesn’t simply clown about with technology. With Pina, Wenders invites you to take a closer look at the beauty of the flower, without squirting water in your face.
3D lovers and snobs alike are sure to raise an eyebrow on hearing about Pina.
Wenders proves that, when handled with care, the technology can reach a whole new dimension.
Hopefully Pina will be the first of many to build a bridge between 3D and arthouse cinema.