Some of us have been waiting for a long time to see Wim Wenders’ 3D debut—Pina about the legendary choreographer and dance company leader Pina Bausch.
I saw a brief, tantalizing clip at a conference last summer, and everyone I meet who has actually seen it is raving. But it has yet to achieve wide release and has been hard to find.
I finally got to see Pina this week as part of the events leading up to this weekend’s performances of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch at Canada’s National Arts Centre.
This is the 3D film I’ve been waiting for.
It’s gorgeous. Lyrical, subtle, joyful, witty, inspiring, and deeply moving. The film presents four of Bausch’s modern dance pieces, interspersed with vignettes—danced and spoken by company members as well as some archival footage.
The backstory is heartbreaking—Bausch passed away before shooting could begin and never got a chance to see her very ephemeral art captured so lovingly on screen. Her work is deeply emotional and very theatrical. I’ve seen plays within films before (Olivier’s Henry V, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) but never anything that emulated the experience of being at a live performance so profoundly.
It’s great work, Wenders is a great filmmaker, but the masterful use of the 3D stereoscopy tool truly makes it transcendent.
The show sold out, the audience included a who’s who of the local art and museum scene. In the lobby people were offering to buy tickets off those who had them.
Unfortunately this was a single screening, in a sub-optimal oddly shaped theatre, with bad sound, cheap glasses, faulty AC and a technical snafu that made the first few minutes unwatchable (double image but not in 3D—hoots and howls from the upscale artsy crowd). I can’t wait to see it again, somewhere great.
I was accompanied by a couple artist friends who were ready to hate it. They came away saying it was the best film they’d seen in ages.
The truth is, we are on the verge of a golden age of 3D as an artistic medium. Whether or not you care about modern dance—this film is a masterpiece. In Pina 3D is not a gimmick but an essential component of telling the story and immersing us emotionally into what is on the screen.
I hope it wins every prize. I hope it inspires a new generation of filmmakers and audiences alike. I know it inspires me.