I love watching dance programs and movies and while the choreography is brilliant, as far the movies are concerned, the plot leaves a lot to be desired. Most of them have more or less the same plot, to the point where one is indistinguishable from another. And this is where Pina differs.
The movie was initially supposed to be a collaborative effort between Pina Bausch and Wim Wenders but for the longest time, nothing happened because Wenders didn’t think that he could accurately capture dance, he did not want to simply record a dance performance, he wanted the audience to feel like they were part of the performance. Like they were watching it live on stage. Things changed when he saw Avatar. He realized that the 3D technology would be the perfect way to film and he and Pina started working on the film once again. A major setback came with her sudden death, mere days before filming was supposed to start. Production stalled again since he couldn’t possible make the film without its subject, its muse. Wenders was then approached by Pina’s friends and her dance company, Tanztheatre to make the film an homage to her.
This film was my introduction to modern ballet. So far, I thought that there was one kind of ballet, the kind we see with Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and so on. But what I saw in the film was something completely different from my pre-conceived notions of what I thought ballet was. I had never seen anything like this before and I thought that it was absolutely mesmerizing. With classical ballet, the dance is used to tell a particular story but with modern ballet, the dance is the story. It is abstract and that leaves it open for multiple interpretations while the broader theme is fairly obvious. Which also why her dance company was called Tanztheatre, it was a union of dance and theatre i.e drama. The films focuses on some specific performances that Pina choreographed and it also features interviews from people in her company.
The film is also one of the best 3D films I have seen till date. It uses the technology so well and really makes you feel like it’s happening right in front of you, as if you are on the stage with the performers. Another thing that I really liked about the film was that it took the dances outside the theatre, for instance, performing in an empty dockyard or a train compartment. It was an interesting to see these performances in such a strange setting, outside the confines of a theatre. And it is visually stunning with images that stay with you long after the film is over.
The point of the film was to showcase her contribution to the world of modern ballet and I think it did that beautifully and made me fall in love with her work. I only wish there had been more archival footage of her performances. What little I saw of her left me speechless; I didn’t know that people could move like that, like there were no bones in her body. Her movements were so emotive that you had to made of granite to not be moved by what you saw. I am so glad that I was fortunate enough to have seen it on the big screen. One of my favourite films, I absolutely loved it!