sat 24/02/2024

DVD: Pina | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Pina

DVD: Pina

Wenders' elegiac film about the remarkable dancemaker loses 3D but gains aural lustre

Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring: a beautiful, harrowing piece of male-female sex war

The clips as you load the DVD show women in extremis - women tied to the end of a rope, women being assaulted by mass male groping, women dancing on pointe with bleeding chunks of meat stuffed into their ballet shoes. Pina Bausch’s commentaries on women make her ballets disquieting viewing. Wim Wenders’ film, released as a 3D version in cinemas earlier this year, takes you into those deep, confused questions that Bausch’s dance works put.

He had planned to make this film with Bausch, but her sudden death left him bereft. This film therefore became an elegy to her and her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal. I'd wondered if this orthodox DVD release would damage the impact of the film, shorn of its stunning 3D. But the intimacy of the camerawork in the performance shooting, its haunting of diagonals and perspective, make up for this loss. This isn’t the audience’s point of viewing, it’s a secret insider’s viewpoint, filmed in scrupulous closeness, highlighting the almost slavish devotion of her dancers.

There is rather too much of that, but mostly what you get is her dances. The film starts with a long chunk of her Rite of Spring, a beautiful, harrowing piece of male-female sex war on a peat-strewn floor. What you lose visually from the stunning 3D version you gain aurally with Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra on your headphones, rather than ropy cinema speakers.

Wenders stamps his own mark insistently by staging disconcerting Bausch-ish sights outdoors - a woman in evening dress dancing yearningly under the busy Wuppertal elevated tram, carriages whizzing overhead, cars behind. These look self-conscious, intimidated by real surroundings. Perhaps the greatest tribute to be paid to Bausch's work is that even Wenders, with all his camera arts, can't make her exacting scenes any better than they are in the reality she set them in, on stage.

Watch the official trailer for 'Pina'

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