Pina Bausch died just before filming began, turning what would have been a beautiful dance documentary into a stunning remembrance by the director and the generations of cast members from her theatre company in Wuppertal, Germany.
This is a dance movie, a performance for the camera, and like Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" the 3D doesn't seem necessary but adds immensely, heightening the intimacy and immediacy, the sense of not just watching a dance but participating in the dance. Performances of four of Pina's works form the core of the movie, with smooth camera tricks putting you on the stage, shifting the performers between generations and the rare clip of Pina herself performing.
The performances are beautiful enough, intensely emotional with a common thread of repetitive connected motion and themes of interdependence / pain / joy. I would seek out a performance of "Vollmond" (Full Moon) in a second after this introduction. But the movie adds on top recollections and goodbyes from so many of the Tanztheater cast members, who are clearly pouring their dancing out here in dedication to Pina.
A former dancer I randomly ran into recently reminded me of the cliche-sounding sentiment "my body is my instrument". The 15 or so dancers featured in these individual moments have kept their instruments in top condition, and speak through them - their thoughts and memories, in their native French and German and Spanish and Japanese and more, voiceover mute shots of themselves. Then they dance, dance alone or in pairs all over Wuppertal indoors and out, in public and in industrial desolation, in imaginative evocative scenes. It was unclear to me whether these were also movements from Pina's works or their personal choreographies to her, but certainly in the same connected style with the rest of the performances.
Wonderful emotion, trust, common spirit, and loss... I don't consider myself a fan of dance, I almost never seek it out, but I think this movie goes far beyond needing any appreciation for modern German dance, it is a masterpiece. You won't learn facts or history about Pina Bausch from this documentary, but you'll experience what she meant.
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