Oh, Wim Wenders, you wacky, wonderful weirdo. After Herzog took his three crew members and plumbed the depths of France’s Paleolithic artwork in last year’s “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” you just had to step on the 3-D documentary bandwagon, didn’t you? And what a departure it is. It’s pretty safe to say that Jim Cameron never envisioned a nonfiction film about modern dance to be so immersed in his beloved technology.
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It seems like a disservice to call “Pina” just a “dance documentary.” Combining elements of music video, musical and swoony romance, Wenders depicts the ensemble Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch with broad, deliberate strokes. The trailer doesn’t do justice to the phrase “leap off the screen.” The troupe is not of this world.
Spindly fingers grasp at a woman’s stretched-thin skin and twiddle her nose. Dancers soar into their partners’ arms and then fold over, limp, like little lost rag dolls. A pretty young ingénue in a strapless ball gown flexes her brawny, muscled arms. It looks like she’s been injected with too many shots of testosterone, but a man suddenly emerges behind her like it’s no big thing. The seams behind the production don’t show, and the effect nears magical territory.
Some people say dance films without a central narrative are boring. But Pina Bausch’s own historic words say it best: “Dance, dance … otherwise we are lost.”