Yesterday was the Academy Awards…Yes, I know this day well. Having grown up in Los Angeles, with a family working in the film business for generations, film has always played an important role in our household. And the Academy Awards were always an important event, not only because of our collected love of films, but also because I have a father who is a member of the academy, therefore he actually votes on the nominees.
It was always sort of like participating in a game show then, when we’d sit around the tele as a family and watch the awards handed out. My dad would see how many he got right, how many of his votes were actually realized. It was fun!
Nowadays, the awards have lost a bit of the razzle and dazzle for me. I just feel like we all know the drill. The gowns, the speeches, the corny jokes…All this fluff and nonsense. That’s not to say I think they are pointless, but to a certain degree I feel like the spectacle of it has overshadowed the point — recognizing really great work, excellent artistry. The Academy may be doing that, but the TV networks aren’t. What they broadcast seems to come off as a sycophantic charade of overpriced cheap spectacle that, in recent years, hasn’t left me all too inspired by the film industry.
But the films themselves don’t lose their merit, regardless of whether they make it onto the Kodak Stage or not. There are many that really do succeed in creating something engaging and moving. One such film I saw yesterday was Pina. It’s an Oscar nominated documentary about the work of late choreographer Pina Bausch. And it is simply brilliant.
We saw it in 3D (my first 3D movie since Captain EO in the 80’s) and I must say that it uses the technology in the most thrilling way. It brings the idea of viewing dance on film to a whole new level. The viewer can see the dance and movement much like they are at a live theater performance. And that to me is delightful. I immediately thought of watching a production of Don Q in 3D – Getting the feeling of a live performance for the price of a movie ticket!
Beyond the 3D-ness, the film maker, Wim Wenders, also manages to brilliantly capture Pina’s work and even compliment it with unusual locations and perfectly composed angles….It’s such a testament to how film can accentuate choreography and it can do so in a perfectly composed, gentle way.
I adored so many of the pieces shown, inter-cut with testaments from the company dancers, the film says so much about Pina and her work, but it also says so much about dancers. The role they play, how they work together, the unusual world of being a modern dance artist — I kept thinking how lucky they are to get to perform such incredible pieces. To have the opportunity to express so much in such a surrealist, physical way. It’s easy to see why they wanted to dance with Pina in Tanztheater Wuppertal.
So many of the pieces were so different as well. The range of work portrayed is simply marvelous! Among my favorites (and I am sorry that I don’t know the official names of most of them) were Luna (or the one with the big rock as the husband and I were calling it) Le Sacre Du Printemps, which is danced on a stage covered in dirt, the “obstacles” piece, performed on a cliff, the “dance hall” piece, and the last piece shown, in a series of rooms. I also liked many of the very short clips, including the one with the brief love encounter, the ballerina dancing on veal filled pointe shoes and the one with the hippopotamus (yes, you read that right, there is a hippo in one.)
All the dances bring such contemplative imagery and movement…They are like surrealist paintings come to life. Honestly, I could go on and on about this film, but really you should just see it for yourself. I’m grateful to Wenders for capturing Pina’s work in this way. I think it is an incredible gift to dancers, future dancers, lovers of art, lovers of movement, and well….everyone.
You can watch some clips and behind the scenes footage here...Enjoy!