Posts Tagged ‘Pina Bausch’

Wim Wenders originally proposed the idea of making a film with dance choreographer Pina Bausch to her a quarter of a century ago. He told her it was an idea that they had to make; his only problem was he didn’t know how to film it, though he knew it required a special approach. It took Wenders until 2007 when upon seeing U2 3D at Cannes he recognised the technique he had been looking for all along.  He called Pina and told her that he had realised how to make the film and they set the ball rolling for the production, an art house dance film in 3D.

Tragically, just as Wenders, Pina and their crew were beginning production Pina was diagnosed with cancer and within a short time her condition worsened and she passed away. Leaving cast and crew devastated they halted production. Then came the realisation that they must reinterpret the project, this time as a tribute to Pina and her work. The result is a very personal goodbye to an extraordinary choreographer and as we learn an extraordinary person as well.

The film is structured around spectacular dance performances, juxtaposed with interview material with Pina’s dancers. Wenders had each dancer record a piece of speech in which they describe how Pina influenced them. Rather than using a conventional interview technique, Wenders plays back the audio to the dancers and then films them, as they listen to their own reflections on the late choreographer. This technique gives the interviews a poetic quality that juxtaposes appropriately with Pina’s unique and emotional choreography.

From the interviews we get a sense of the challenge and the liberation that Pina brought to her dance troupe. It is clearly evident that this is a quality unique to Pina. The dance performances confirm this. At times Pina’s unique form of choreography provoke the audience to question whether what they are seeing is strictly dance; however no matter what it is, it is evidentially powerful. Wenders’ approach to filming Pina’s choreography emphasises the poetry of the dance, as well as the sometimes gruelling, sometimes funny expressions created by the movements. The two artists come together perfectly.

The structure of Pina may at times prove difficult for some viewers; it feels closer to a letter than a story. For this reason it is important to view this film as a message from close friends, as they say goodbye to someone who touched them deeply. Join them in this and Pina will no doubt be a powerful experience.

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Last night a sold out audience at the National Film Theatre in London had the privilege of listening to Bernardo Bertolucci, director of The Conformist, Last Tango In Paris, Novecento, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers talk about his life and work.

Now 70 Bertolucci talked energetically about his career and said that he intends to return to directing soon, after almost 10 years of back surgery which has resulted in him having to use a wheelchair.

He expressed great enthusiasm for James Cameron’s Avatar as well as Wim Wender’s 3D dance film Pina and said in his return to directing he will “use a new technology”, that technology being 3D. Like his art house peers Bertolucci intends not to use 3D for sheer spectacle, but instead to tell a story of adolescent love in an adaptation of the Italian novel Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti.

He also pondered what it would be like to witness a Jean-Luc Godard film in 3D and reflected on what it was like to make his first films in his early twenties. Though 50 years on, it was easily apparent that Bertolucci is as young in spirit as he was when he directed his first features back in the early 1960’s.

Photo by Chiara Capponi

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It is a strange coincidence that Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, internationally famous auteurs and central figures of the 1960’s film movement the New German Cinema (which Herzog does not consider himself part of), have both made films in 3D for release this year.

It is also interesting to note the distinctly different approach that each director has taken to 3D. Herzog has shot Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary deep under ground in the Chauvet Cave in France (the site of the oldest known cave paintings), while Wenders has made Pina, a dance film dedicated to the late dance choreographer Pina Bausch.

It is a testament to the maverick spirit of this generation of German directors that both Herzog and Wenders have embarked on these projects. Perhaps their interpretations of 3D will bring something truly special to this often debated technology.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Werner Herzog) trailer:

Pina (dir. Wim Wenders) trailer:

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