08 May 2011
This Wim Wenders ‘written’ and directed homage to Pina Bausch is exactly what 3D is for. Despite the efforts of many an action film that Hollywood projectile-vomits towards us in the name of an extra dimension, none have so far gone beyond what is essentially a gimmicky premise. I may be on the losing side of this war, but I am still to be convinced that a narrative fiction can be told using 3D technology.
Of course, 3D has been in use in non-fiction narrative for quite some time and the results are usually impressive, but still they are limited to the forces of nature that mankind look up in awe: impassable mountains, giant waves, impenetrable jungles …
Another genre, if you will, that 3D is somewhat advantageous over your run-of-the-mill 2D is in the cinematic representations of performance art: concerts, opera, theatre … these benefit from 3D, because by their nature we always have experienced these events in 3D. So, a two-dimensional representation always falls short.
That is why this beautiful biography of one of 20th century’s greatest artists benefits from the latest innovations in 3D filming and projection.
I cannot really ‘critique’ this film, as my knowledge of Pina Bausch (or her work) is limited to a few clips here and there, some articles in the newspapers over the years, and the opening scene of Talk to Her, which features a small piece from Bausch’s Cafe Müller. But I have eyes and what I saw was incredible.
The film is a celebration of Bausch’s art, where the dancers from her company perform snippets of her choreography in seemingly unfamiliar locations: a busy city intersection, a large hall with glass walls, a power station, landfill etc. In between these little interpretations are actual dance routines, acted for the camera. And here is where the 3D really shines - you feel like you are actually sitting in an auditorium, watching this live with hundreds of other spectators. That is how these pieces should be experienced, not on a screen.
Wenders’s camera occasionally takes us to the heart of the action and even this doesn’t feel jarring - we are placed in positions too close for any audience member to experience and the performances become a private one for us. This was how Bausch, who sadly passed away during filming, saw her company and their interpretations of her work.
This is not only for dance fans (I’m no more a fan of contemporary dance as the next person), but for everyone who wants to see an artist’s work so passionately performed by people closest to her. They loved Bausch, she loved them back. And now I can’t resist either.