http://youtu.be/ouEc-3MlGZ4 - trailer
After haughtily turning my nose up at the latest wave of 3D films (following on from the 50s and the 80s), I finally caved in, donned the specs and took the plunge with Wim Wenders' latest film. Having firmly allied myself to the Mark Kermode school of thinking regarding 3D (just a craze, financially driven, artistically pointless), I'll happily hold my hands up and say he, other detractors and I are (largely) wrong. Wenders' documentary eulogy to the late coreographer Pina Bausch, of whom I admit I knew very little beforehand, captivated me from the first frame to the last with its visual beauty, artistic flair and technical virtuosity.
Filmed in Wuppertal, the German city where Bausch's dance theatre is based, Pina 3D blends staged performances of Bausch's pieces, to- camera monologues from the members of her ensemble, brief archive footage of Bausch herself and further performances filmed around the city and the surrounding countryside. Whilst the performers themselves offer little real insight into Bausch, their artistic bon mots perhaps being the only superfluous addition to the film, it matters little as the physical skill, mental discipline and emotional passion displayed in the performances of Bausch's kinetic, often highly complex, pieces speaks volumes for both themselves and their late coreographer. Wenders has stated that after struggling for years with how to capture the dancers and the dance pieces in a suitably expressive way on film that it was after seeing the concert film U23D, that he realised that 3D technology was the answer to his artistic dilemma. It is in the extended dance sequences, both onstage and in the vastly differing physical environments of Wuppertal, where Wenders' decision is proved thrillingly right. With sequences shot to capture the full stage set up for the individual pieces both in close up,from a distance and from many angles and others that take in Wuppertal's industrial zones, wooded areas,city centre and desert like outskirts, Wender's cinematic eye, Bausch's breathtaking works and the 3D technology compliment each other to produce one richly satisfying whole . The sheer depth of field available allows for the full impact of Bausch's dynamic and meticulous pieces to be felt. Obviously, nothing can compare to seeing the likes of Cafe muller and Vollmond performed live, but Wenders has undoubtedly produced the next best thing, and artistically raised the bar for 3D to a dizzying new high.
Pina 3D leaves no doubt in my mind that in the right hands, and with the right material, 3D can significantly enrich a film, and that's the nub of the matter. I have no interest whatsoever in seeing a mainstream Hollywood film in which the technology is used simply to put bums on seats, and that is why it is being used in the majority of cases. It takes a director of note, which Wenders certainly is, to not allow the 3D process itself to dominate the film or be its main draw, and in Pina 3D Wenders has impressively incorporated new technology within a project to strengthen all aspects of the finished piece. Bravo.