I wasn’t sure what to expect when the film started. Pina has been nominated for an Oscar (best documentary), so I knew it would be good. However, knowing that Pina Bausch, the dancer/choreographer/modern dance visionary after whom the film is named, had died prior to filming made me question what exactly Pina would be. This film is a touching tribute to the late choreographer, complete with footage of some of her dancers talking about what she was like to work with and what she means to them.
The majority of this film is footage of Pina’s more famous choreographed dances. Instead of staying with the traditional front-only view that theater audiences see, director Wim Wenders shot the film with camera angles that put the audience side-by-side with the dancers. You can literally hear their breathing and their foot movements.
Seeing a dance film in 3-D can often be more cheesy than artistic, but the majority of the three dimensional shots added a greater sense of depth to the dancers’ overall movement on screen. I don’t think it’s an essential part to the film, but it does add more visual interest.
I love dance. I can even tolerate modern dance, though it does occasionally drives me crazy. I enjoyed much of the choreography in this film, and it’s a great representation of the variety within modern dance. Instead of showing performances only on a stage, many dances are filmed at locations such as a subway car, by a stoplight, in a field, and so on.
My only problem with this film is that I don’t feel that it technically qualifies as a documentary. I saw it and walked out of the theater without feeling like I gained much knowledge about Pina Bausch. It’s more of a conglomeration of choreography without any real background to any particular subject, whether that’s the choreographer, dancers, or the creative process. For being a film about Pina, Pina really doesn’t do more than highlight her creativity.