Wim Wenders' dance documentary Pina (4 stars)

Wim Wenders' dancing doc Pina makes all the right moves

An exploration of the life and works of late choreographer Pina Bausch

(U) 103min

Filmmaker Wim Wenders had a big problem: in 2009 his long-time friend and colleague Pina Bausch died suddenly, just days before they were to begin the rehearsal shoot for a new 3D film about her and the work she’d been making for 35 years in the German industrial town of Wuppertal. As the high priestess of ‘Tanztheater’, Bausch was intensely revered and hugely influential on dance and performance globally. After a suitable period of mourning, and a rethink, Wenders decided to go ahead with the project. The result is this technically groundbreaking 3D art-house film about a groundbreaking artist, a near-masterpiece about someone who knew how to make masterpieces.

Subtitled 'Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost' (advice that Bausch herself once uttered), Pina is rooted in newly filmed excerpts from four of her productions: the thrillingly elemental Rite of Spring, the bleak Café Müller, three multi-generational stagings of the collective memory piece Kontakthof and the more recently created, lighter-hearted Vollmond. Interspersed with the theatrical performance footage are interviews with Bausch’s dancers in which we hear their words as they gaze at the camera, solos and duets of them dancing in outdoor locations ranging from the city’s streets to the surrounding countryside, plus archival footage of the wraith-like genius herself.

Wenders has fashioned a beautifully assembled tribute to her: unsentimental, insightful and ravishing to look at. You needn’t be a ready-made acolyte of Bausch’s brand of agony and ecstasy to derive a deep pleasure from it. Her abiding interest was in how human beings move and, more importantly, behave towards each other. On that fundamental level Pina can potentially offer something valuable to everyone.

GFT, Glasgow from Fri 22–Thu 28 Apr; Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 22 Apr–Thu 5 May.

Pina International Trailer


  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • Germany / UK / France
  • 1h 43min
  • U
  • Directed by: Wim Wenders
  • Written by: Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders' documentary is rooted in newly filmed excerpts from four of Pina Bausch's productions and interspersed with theatrical performance footage and interviews. It's a beautifully assembled tribute; unsentimental, insightful and ravishing to look at, with something for everyone.

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