DVD: Pina (U)

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The Independent Culture

Pina is really the story of how a collaboration became a eulogy.

Early in the production of the film in 2009, Pina Bausch, the German choreographer whose works (by turn gorgeously tender, melancholic and apocalyptic) are celebrated here, died five days after being diagnosed with cancer. The director, Wim Wenders, pulled the plug on the project, but the dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal persuaded him to keep going – and thank goodness they did.

On its release earlier this year, Wenders made a great play for the artistic possibilities of 3D technology in general, and for its centrality to the experience of Pina in particular. In many ways, he was right – 3D gave such a luscious depth and immediacy to the film in the cinema that its 2D incarnation, naturally, can't quite match – but crucially Wenders also has a handle on the humanity and humour in Bausch's work (not always easy to find in modern dance). The dances – groups, duos, solos, on an escalator, in a room littered with chairs (the marvellous Café Mueller), beneath the hulk of some great industrial site – successfully sidestep the arch-seriousness of many of the testimonies to Bausch, which, at times, threaten to derail the singular beauty of the dance itself. Mesmerising – with or without a pair of silly glasses.