Acclaimed director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire) takes  our breath away with this documentary on the late, great dancer and  choreographer, Pina Bausch. *Photo supplied by IFC
Acclaimed director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire) takes our breath away with this documentary on the late, great dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch. *Photo supplied by IFC

FRIDAY, MAR. 9:

Pina ****

Director: Wim Wenders.
Stars: Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo, Ruth Amarante and the Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble
Country: Germany, 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time: 100 mins
Documentary

Acclaimed director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire) takes our breath away with this documentary on the late, great dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch.

Dancing is one of the most joyous and pure physical expressions of human existence.

In Pina, Wenders takes us on a thrilling journey into the power and creativity of the human body.

The German director, who was friends with Bausch, envisioned this film as a 3D project prior to her death on June 30, 2009.

Bausch selected her pieces Café Muller, Le Sacre du Printemps, Kontakthof and Vollmond for inclusion. But, just two days before the film’s pre-production 3D rehearsal shoot, she died.

Wenders was inspired to continue his project by Bausch’s family, dancers from the Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble, and people mourning her death around the world.

He interspersed archival footage of Bausch at work with performances by her ensemble dancers and their tributes.

One male dancer says: “Pina was a painter who continually questioned us. That’s how we became the paint to colour her images.” Others talk of her strength but fragility, her pain and loneliness. She is also described as a “radical explorer”.

The result is a stunning journey into the artistic vision of one of the most important choreographers of the 20th century.

Pina is regarded as the first 3D art house film, but even in 2D form, it is fluid and captivating to watch.

What I loved most about this film were the scenes when Wenders takes the dancers out of the theatre and into the streets, fields, rivers and industrial sites of Wuppertal.

These scenes challenge the viewer to imagine how the everyday moments of our lives can suddenly be filled with something extraordinary, if we allow ourselves to dream.

I also enjoyed the director’s focus on the older dancers of the ensemble, because in so doing he turns the stereotypical ageist attitudes of the dance world on their head.

If I had one criticism it would be that we never really get to know who Pina Bausch is as a person. I would have liked to have learned more about her personal background, the loves of her life and what inspired her. But perhaps this is Wenders’ aim, to portray her as an iconic enigma.

Pina was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and received the European Film Academy’s Best Documentary award.

In the film’s final moments, the words of this dance visionary will stay with you as Bausch says: “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost.”

Unmissable.