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Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost. Homage to late choreographer Pina Bausch (1940-2009), a leading influence in the development of the Tanztheater style of dance. Bausch was the artistic head of Tanztheater Wuppertal, a German group that fuses modern dance with theatrical flourishes into a kind of hybrid art form.
For more about Pina and the Pina Blu-ray release, see Pina Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo, Ruth Amarante, Pina Bausch
Director: Wim Wenders
» See full cast & crew
Pina Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 21, 2013
Nominated for Oscar Award for Best Documentary Feature, Wim Wenders' "Pina" (2011) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on this release include an original trailer for the film; deleted scenes; audio commentary by director Wim Wenders; making of featurette; and behind the scenes footage. The release also arrives with an an illustrated booklet featuring a piece by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt; reprinted pieces by Wim Wenders and choreographer Pina Bausch; information on the dances featured in the film; and portraits of the dancers. In German, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
My first impression while watching Pina, Wim Wenders' fascinating tribute to the late German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, was that the men and women that appear in front of the camera have a completely different understanding of what it means to move. They would spin, jump, stretch, and perform all sorts of different moves that for a while had me convinced that they were in some sort of a gravity-free bubble.
Then I noticed their eyes. Some of the dancers would look straight into the camera but it seemed like they were focused on something that was far away from them. At times their moves were erratic, other times fluid and relaxed, but they always shared the same rhythm.
The visuals reminded me of Edouard Lock's mesmerizing dance film Amelia. Some of the steps and forms as well as the understanding between the dancers in the two films are quite similar. In Pina, however, the camera is mostly a casual observer; it never adopts the rhythm of the performances it follows. In Amelia, the camera moves a lot and at times creates the impression that it wants to join the dancers.
There are short scenes in Pina where the dancers also talk to the camera. They quickly explain how Pina taught them to express themselves through different moves and gestures. A few also point out that Pina taught them to believe, because believing was essential for the new visual language she wanted her dancers to master.
The majority of the footage in the film is from Pina's most popular pieces, including the dance to Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and the popular "Café Muller" (a fragment of which appears in Pedro Almodovar's Oscar winning film Talk to Her). Perhaps the most fascinating footage, however, is from Pina's "Vollmond" (Full Moon). This piece has some of the simplest yet most unusual dances in the entire film.
Wenders shot Pina in 3D and for once it is obvious that the technology was used with proper understanding of its advantages and limitations. The camera is positioned in very specific ways and the visuals give the viewer an opportunity to experience the energy and atmosphere of Pina's pieces, flawlessly recreating the effect of attending a live performance. The stage footage, in particular, is enormously impressive as it basically places the viewer right in the middle of the action.
Wenders and Bausch planned the film together but the famous choreographer died in 2009, shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. Wenders decided to complete the project alone and the film had its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2011. During the same year, Pina also won the prestigious Film Award in Gold for Best Documentary (producers Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders) at the annual German Film Awards.
In 2012, Pina was also Germany's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 84th Academy Awards.
Note: Criterion's Blu-ray release of Pina contains the original 3D theatrical version of the film as well as a standard 2D version placed on a separate Blu-ray disc.
Pina Blu-ray, Video Quality
Criterion's Blu-ray release of Wim Wenders' Pina contains the original 3D version of the film as well as a standard 2D version. They are placed on two separate Blu-ray discs.
I think it is fair to say that to really understand what the German director wanted to accomplish with Pina one needs to watch the 3D version of his film. For once it is obvious that the technology was used with proper understanding of its advantages and limitations, and the final result truly is quite spectacular. The image depth and dimensionality are enormously impressive, with select sequences basically placing the viewer amongst the dancers. Clarity is also outstanding, especially during the stage dances. Colors are incredibly lush yet natural. Furthermore, there are no image anomalies to report in this review. However, while the encoding is indeed very good, I think that the camera positioning has a lot to do with the film's impressive visual style. I went back a couple of times to see some of the most beautiful dances and it is now pretty clear to me that Wenders did not experiment during the shooting of the film. Every single sequence is shot with a clear understanding of how to maximize the advantages 3D offers and avoid the technology's limitations.
There are no serious technical issues to report with the 2D version of the film. Detail and to a certain extent clarity are both excellent, but the type of dimensionality the 3D version of the film offers is missing. I also think that to a certain extent shadow and light are better captured on the 3D version. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Pina Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (with portions of other languages) is offered for the 2D and 3D versions of Pina. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is excellent. It has a wide range of nuanced dynamics that enhance the film's unusual atmosphere very well. Thom's prominent soundtrack benefits greatly, but random sounds also impress (the sequence with the falling water on the stage is a good example). There is good surround movement as well. The little dialog that is heard in the film is stable, clean, and easy to follow.
Pina Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Pina Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
From all of the 3D films that I have seen to date, Wim Wenders' Pina is undoubtedly the most impressive one. After spending a couple of days looking at how different dances in it were shot, I am convinced that it makes a big difference when a director understands the technology's advantages and limitations. Pina truly is an extraordinary film that does justice to Pina Bausch's genius and her art. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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