Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best River Walk Restaurant

Best River Walk Restaurant

Best of SA 2012: 4/25/2012
Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Guide: It’s almost summer, which means that your government-subsidized free daycare (aka public school) goes on hiatus thanks to an archaic allegiance to a rural agriculture economic system that hasn’t been in play for decades. What to do with the wee ones whining 5/21/2014
How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

Screens: See if you can spot the common thread that is pulling at the seams of the Texas film industry. On NBC’s The Night Shift, a stock-written staff... By Matt Stieb 8/27/2014
Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens & Tech

Wim Wenders shows but doesn't tell in 'Pina'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Beauty and strengh — Pina Bausch's choreographies are a visceral experience.


Director Wim Wenders was not at all interested in dance before a girlfriend dragged him to see Cafe Müller and Le Sacre du Printemps by German avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch. Expecting to be terribly bored, Wenders was instead so transfixed that he decided to showcase Pina's work in a documentary. Pina, the 3D film that resulted, was up for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature that eventually went to Undefeated.

Musical subjects are not new to Wenders, who highlighted Cuban musicians in Buena Vista Social Club and American blues in The Soul of a Man. But here his approach is almost entirely non-narrative. No dance critics or biographers talk about the life or technique of Pina, who died of cancer in 2009, just before filming began. The only commentary is by members of her Tanztheater Wuppertal company, who talk about what Pina meant to them: "She was like a house with an attic full of treasures." "She saw everything, even with closed eyes." "Pina was a painter; we became the paint."

Without narration, the movie becomes an entirely visceral experience of Pina's work, set to music ranging from classical to Cat Power. The 3D technology, never obtrusive, brings the viewer onstage as the dancers perform the gloriously savage Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) to Stravinsky's music, on a stage covered with peat. Cafe Müller features the dancers crashing through a room of tables and chairs, culminating in an eerie pas de deux in which a "blind" dancer embraces her male partner, then falls limp through his arms again and again. In the ecstatic Vollmond, performed in a pool of shallow water, the dancers interact with a giant boulder, throwing pails of water on it, sliding up, down, and under it.

Pina's choreography is characterized by a savage eroticism reminiscent of the paintings of Frida Kahlo; in one piece, the dancers perform with lipstick smeared on their faces. Wenders' decision to focus on Pina's dances and not her life is in some ways a strength, creating a pure experience of dance. But in other ways it's a weakness, because it leaves unsatisfied the curiosity it provokes. What in this gentle woman's life inspired these furious emotional themes?

Frustrating as Pina may be for more left-brained viewers, its presentation of the dances is exquisite. Wenders takes them out of the theater and places them in unexpected settings around the city of Wuppertal — under an elevated train, inside a factory, by a swimming pool, atop a mountain bluff. These natural contexts make Pina's dances seem even more organic. Wenders' focus on the emotional experience of Pina's work is a fitting tribute to the choreographer, who disliked verbal explanations. "I'm not interested in how people move," she said, "but what moves them." •

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

Pina

Dir. Wim Wenders; writ. Wim Wenders; feat. Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo (PG)
Opens Friday at Santikos Bijou, 4522 Fredericksburg, (no 3-D in San Antonio).

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus