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Works of Pina Bausch get 3-D treatment

Aug. 8, 2012 - 20:23 By Claire Lee
A scene from Wim Wenders’ documentary “Pina,” which features Pina Bausch’s major works. (Free Vision Entertainment)
Wim Wenders’ documentary opens  in Korea a year after its original release

Not every movie needs 3-D treatment, but Wim Wenders’ cinematic tribute to his friend, the late groundbreaking dancer Pina Bausch, is certainly one of the exceptions.

The 3-D documentary, titled “Pina,” is not a biographical film about Bausch. It is about her works, and what the members of her troupe ― the famous Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ― have to say about her and what they learned from her extraordinary life. 
German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch

The dancers, however, do not say much onscreen: What they share is mostly shown through their dancing of Bausch’s distinctively original choreography. The 3-D effect offers an immersive artistic experience, taking the audience right into the visually striking dance movements. The technology brings depth and color while the dancers use their bodies to express the inexpressible.

Bausch died suddently in 2009, five days after being diagnosed with cancer. She had been scheduled to shoot the long-planned film with Wenders two days later. Wenders made the film anyway, featuring a number of scenes from four of Bausch’s signature pieces: “The Rite of Spring” (1975); “Cafe Muller” (1978); “Kontakthof” (Meeting Hall) (1978); and “Full Moon” (2006).

The contemporary dance scenes are mixed with interview clips with the Tanztheater dancers, who share their personal memories of Bausch. Some remember her telling them to be “crazier,” while others remember being told to “keep searching.”

Wenders, however, does not show them talking. Instead, we see their silent faces, while their voices are dubbed over. None of the dancers are identified, and each of them speaks in his mother tongue ― including English, French, Russian and Korean. None of them gets emotional during the interviews, speaking in calm and measured tones. This creates a great contrast with their dance performance, which is full of emotion and life. The dancers’ physical and facial expressions are clearly superior to their verbal ones.

In many ways, the film is about the imperfections of language, and the need to express the inexpressible. Bausch was particularly interested in the human desire to connect with others. “I’m not so interested in how they move as in what moves them,” the late dancer once said. Her very thought is present throughout the film, in her choreography as well as the dancers’ shared memories.

Korean-born dancer Kim Na-young, who is currently a member of the Tanztheater, remembers Bausch for her fashion and love for cigarettes, aside from her groundbreaking works and artistic talent.

“She smoked to such a degree that everyone around her was concerned about her health,” Kim, who appears in the movie, said during a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. “And she very often dressed in black. I remember her sitting down during our rehearsals, dressed in black, holding her cigarette almost every day.”

Kim also remembered Bausch for her dedication and passion. “She really loved her job,” Kim said. “She once said she’s working hard not because she wants to achieve something great, but because she doesn’t think she is good enough.”

“Pina” is a beautiful homage to the late dancer, which offers a rare grasp of her artistic drive and passion. “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost,” Bausch says in the film.

“Pina” opens in local theaters on Aug. 30.

By Claire Lee (