“What are we longing for? Where does all this yearning come from?”
- Pina Bausch
Here’s what I wrote about this film in my original theatrical review:
“I can’t say I knew anything about the German choreographer Pina Bausch before watching director Wim Wenders’ (Wings of Desire, The Buena Vista Social Club) remarkable 3D documentary Pina. I remembered her “Café Müller” sequence from Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her, of course, but that was admittedly only after her dancers started discussing and staging it during the doc. In all honesty, as much as I adore the world of dance I can’t say I know heck of a lot about it, making my understanding of what exactly made the dearly departed Bausch such an international sensation a tiny bit difficult.
Wenders understands that a lot of viewers are going to be coming from a similar place as that of myself. He gets that what we don’t know about in regards to the intricacies of dance we will certainly make up for in our understanding of imagination, ingenuity, inspiration and pure unabashed creative acumen. Without extensive backstory, without a lot of talking heads spending countless minutes expounding on Pina’s genius, Wenders lets her work and the talents of the dancers she spent so much of her time with speak for itself. This is a movie that thrives on the ability of the human form and psyche to gloriously break through perceived boundaries and burst past what is conventionally expected, and even if it all isn’t immediately relatable the flair it took to bring it to life is undeniable.
Much like Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Wenders uses 3D photography as a vehicle to put the viewer inside the frame, drawing us even further onto the stage right there with the dancers themselves. It’s like we’re wandering between the chairs of “Café Müller,” standing in the middle of the auditorium with the men and women putting them on display in “Kontakthof,” mulling around in the dirt of “Le Sacre du printemps,” floating through the cascading raindrops of “Vollmond.” We are there with them, part of the performance, and as such get a chance to experience of a form of pure visceral creative expression unlike almost anything else.
Do I know any more about Pina Bausch now than I did before sitting in the theatre to experience Wenders movie? No, not really, but I do feel like I understand her genius in a way I never could have otherwise. Watching her fellow dancers celebrate her life and work standing atop trolley lines, in the middle of surging streams or in the center of a glass house reflecting their every move I was overcome with emotion. Pina is a celebration of what it is to inspire greatness, a passionate dance of life, love and inspiration that transcends its central figure to become something as timeless, and as hopeful, as the innovative and remarkable woman who inspired it.”
If anything, Pina is even more fulfilling and inspirational the second time around. This documentary transcends the stage and the screen almost as if Wenders is attempting to transport his images right into the center of the viewer’s soul, the immersive nature of what he is showcasing as elegant as it is eternal. In short, this is a masterful documentary and one I’m positive I will revisit numerous times in the foreseeable future.
Pina is presented on a dual-layer 50GB 3D Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. It is also presented on a 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC video, again with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. As stated in the included booklet: “The film was shot in high definition (1920 x 1080), and the final theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1 (1920 x 1038). To achieve the image size required by the Digital Cinema Initiative’s (DCI) specifications (1998 x 1080), black bars were added to the left and right of the image in the 3D and 2D Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs). These bars were considered preferable to a zoom-in, as the latter would have decreased the sharpness of the image. The bars were removed for the Blu-ray and DVD editions and replaced by black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, to maintain the original aspect ratio. On standard 4x3 televisions, the image will be letterboxed.
The postproduction was done in a DPX-based digital workflow. The theatrical color timing was done on Resolve 5, and the visual effects and retouching on Flame 2009. The heart of the postproduction was a Mistika 5 station, where the onlining, conforming, stereoscopic sweetening, depth grading, reframing and 3D subtitling were done.
The visual accuracy of Pina’s subtitles is unique. Typically, subtitles in a 3D movie are set at screen level. For Pina, every subtitle was individually and manually placed on the depth axis. Some subtitles were even animated to allow for the most comfortable and natural 3D perception.
The final DCP sequence was printed on 35mm Kodak Negative 2383 stock using an ArriLaser. The DPX files were then timed in the Rec. 709 high-definition color space for recording on HDCam SR tape for broadcast and Blu-ray and DVD release.
The 2D version of the 3D film was created as the best-eye version, using a careful selection of shots from either the left or the right eye.”
In other words, Criterion went to a LOT of effort to make sure this release met their high technical standards, not exactly a shock considering this is the studio’s first 3D Blu-ray release. To put it bluntly, they’ve pulled off this technical challenge marvelously, producing one of the best looking home 3D presentations I’ve ever had the good fortune to see. Stupendous.
Pina dances onto Blu-ray in German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and includes optional English subtitles. Again, from the included booklet: “The 5.1 surround soundtrack presented on this release is identical to the theatrical mix.”
Extras here include:
· Audio Commentary with director Wim Wenders – Fantastic, if extremely easygoing, commentary track, the director talking about this film from inception, to its virtual collapse upon Bausch’s tragic death, to its ultimate resurrection and why it lives and breathes in the version it does now. Wonderful.
· The Making of “Pina” (45:33) – Extensive and immersive making-of doc that, while covering similar ground to Wender’s audio commentary, does offer additional insight into the choreographer and her enduring legacy.
· Deleted Scenes with Optional Wim Wenders Commentary – There are 14 scenes in total, none running any more than about two-minutes in length and all worthy of checking out.
· Behind-the-Scenes Footage – Five bits of raw behind-the-scenes footage, all running between roughly two and four minutes in length.
· Interview with Wim Wenders (22:57) – More with the director, again covering much of the same material from the commentary track and the making-of doc but entertaining and informative nonetheless.
Also included is a 37-page Illustrated Booklet featuring essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt, reprinted pieces by Wenders and Pina Bausch, a guide to the dances featured in the film, and portraits of the dancers.
Criterion has outdone themselves with their first 3D Blu-ray release, their edition of Wim Wender’s marvelous Pina a two-disc marvel to be treasured. Highly recommended.