Wim Wenders has already established himself as a flexible filmmaker. He has turned his hand to several documentaries, as well as both German and English language films which demonstrate very different thematics. Pina showcases Wenders’ unique ability to find emotion in the most unexpected of places.
With the knowledge that the legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch died just before the making of the film, the documentary is already heavy with an air of sadness and loss, two sentiments which are also evident in many of Bausch’s mesmerizing dance pieces. The 3D (despite watching it in a chain cinema that took twenty minutes to project it correctly) is wholly necessary; it makes each piece feel independent of time or space, adding an even more surreal element to the dances.
Pina’s personal belief is shared with us at the start – ‘words can’t do more than just evoke things – that’s where dance comes in’. Her words hang like a spectre over the rest of the film. The emotion stirred in each dance is impossible to describe or even account for – they simply visualize aspects of human contact where words could do no justice. The Cafe Muller sequence is both alienating and affecting, in particular, the frozen man who cannot hold up his lover, constantly torn apart by another man. However, as soon as they snap back into movement, they refuse to be separated. The sequence can be seen here. It’s destructive and desperate and eventually hopeful; surely as accurate a depiction of love you can get, without uttering a word.
Wenders has created a warmly hypnotic documentary, an homage to an important figure in contemporary dance.