Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Must-See Film

A few words about Pina if I can stop myself from gushing once I get started. This is a remarkably beautiful film -- by Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) -- that I've wanted to watch since just missing it when we were in Paris  last summer. When I saw that it was on at Vancouver's Fifth Avenue cinema, the plan for seeing The Artist were scuppered as we snatched the opportunity to see the 3D film about German choreographer Pina Bausch on a large screen with good sound.

From the moment we slipped our 3D glasses on and merged with the film's front-row audience watching a dance production on a large stage, we were meserized. Pina's ballet theatre is astonishingly beautiful, a marvellous bland of wit, luxurious praise of the body's sinuously athletic and aesthetic potential, with an uplifting and insistent joy tinged with just enough awareness of life's shadows to keep it pulsing with drama.

Besides the dance, though, is the provocatively loving way that Wenders' camera lingers on the various dancers' faces as they take turns in the film's punctuation by cameo-portraits -- their words, spoken in a wide variety of international languages, then translated into English sub-titles for us. Clips of Pina working with her troupe also appear as emphasis throughout. The respect she has for her corps and the wide range of ages and body types represented make the film a profound meditation on the body that changes my view of ballet and, especially, of contemporary dance, makes me want to get out and see more. If you've been thinking at all about beauty and aging and the body and portraits, this film will captivate you with its commentary, some of it verbalized, but primarily there in visual richness.

And the settings! Wenders stages various dances in a wide range of urban settings so they interrupt urban life with their compelling lyricism. We occupy the privileged space of the camera eye, swooping to follow the dancers' movements in arresting architectural venues -- beautiful, beautiful spaces -- and in surprisingly expansive outdoor locations -- along the edge, for example, of an immense quarry.

The simple -- and exquisitely effective -- props are another element to marvel at, as when, in one scene, a dancer squeezes herself beautifully, riskily, between the legs of a dining chair -- and then is followed by another dancer who continues to pursue her as she threads herself through the seat of that chair and the one that yet another dancer is stacking on top of it. And this continues as the stack achieves 3 chairs high and the tower-building dancer pulls over another chair, climbing on it to reach high enough to add yet another, the threading carrying on magically below him.

Or the male dancer on whose outstretched arms and shoulders are balanced, by another, 3 to 4-foot branches, 7 or 8 of them wobbling precariously as he moves carefully against a backdrop of filmy curtains on which is projected imagery of moving water so that dancer fades into the background as we watch the branches floating along in a stream. . .

So beautiful. If you hear that it's appearing soon anywhere near you, try your best to see this film. I can't imagine anyone regretting it.

tonight we're off to see Vancouver Opera's Barber of Seville in a production that is apparently taking its lead from "that wascally wabbit" -- a nod to the music's association, in many of our ears, with  Looney Tunes Rabbit of Seville. So we're off to scare up some gyoza to keep the tummy from growling in competition with the singers. . . .

Seen or heard of Pina? I'd love to hear your impressions either way. Or if you were ever fortunate enough to see Pina Bausch's Tanztheatre in live action. . .

14 comments:

  1. If you like it so much, I might give it a shot. I realize I never go to the movies any more, just watching stuff on TV, on demand. You write very convincingly, about a movie I'd otherwise ignore, most likely:).

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    1. We don't get to movies often either, but when we're in Vanc'r we're only blocks away from some great cinemas. Pina is really made to be appreciated on a big screen -- and it makes brilliant use of 3D.

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  2. I was lucky enough to see the company over 25 years ago and meet her briefly thanks to the dancer who took me. The film is magical; I have always loved that the company includes such diversity of bodies and ages, most unusual,

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    1. Okay, m'dear, this one impresses me even more than your Iggy Pop connection! Really? You met Pina? And saw the company dance? What a memory you must have of that evening! I, too, was so struck by the diversity of the company which turned dance into something completely different from what I've seen before.

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  3. I think I'll give this a shot! Lovely post!


    Love from, THE EASTERN PEARL

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    1. If you get a chance, do! You won't regret it. Thanks so much for visiting and taking time to comment.

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  4. I missed Pina when it was out over here - think it was only on for a short run - but have heard good things about the film & I'm a Wim Wenders fan, so will definitely try to see it soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  5. Also a WW fan -- would love to see Wings of Desire again!
    I'm sure Pina is the kind of film that will keep showing up at repertory cinemas, hope so anyway.

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  6. Mater--thank you for putting this on my radar. Who knows if it will ever arrive in the American midwest, but I will certainly pay attention...

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    1. I'll cross my fingers you get to see it someday. I know you'll love it.

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  7. I truly want to see this film, and I shall someday. I was fortunate enough to see the company twice at Brooklyn Academy of Music in the 80's.

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    1. Seriously? You've seen them twice? So envious!

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  8. I've been wanting to see this film for a while. Was considering taking my daughter. Do you think it would be appropriate for an almost-six-year-old who loves going to the ballet?

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    1. Hmmmm, that's a tough one. There was a young girl, perhaps 9 or 10, at the screening we attended. Certainly, there's little that would offend (some suggestive gestures, but probably over a child's head?). It depends if the aesthetic and dynamic charms of the film, which are many, would make up for the intellectual attention it also demands. There are parts a 6-year old might just find too slow, but as long as she can tolerate that, she might really revel in the dance moves. It would be a gamble, I guess -- if you decide to go with her, I'll be curious to know what you think.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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