Wenders on why ‘Pina’ needs 3D

Posted by · 5:22 am · September 13th, 2011

Since seeing the film in February, I’ve been something of a broken record saying that Wim Wenders’s marvellous performance film “Pina” — which has been drawing rave responses at Toronto, and was recently submitted as Germany’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar — single-handedly restates the case for 3D, a technology that any number of recent Hollywood blockbusters have tarnished somewhat.

While even the most well-executed 3D narrative films have hardly depended on the gimmick for anything more than bonus effect, 3D actively enhances the audience’s understanding of the subject in “Pina,” where movement patterns and spatial deconstruction in the late Pina Bausch’s choreography are brought to the fore, replicating the immediacy and interactivity of live performance.

In this interview with the Toronto Star, Wenders explains how the film is one he’d been wanting to make for 20 years, but couldn’t find a way to realize on screen until recent 3D pioneers opened the door:

I always wanted to do it but I didn’t know how. Pina’s contribution to modern dance is unique. I needed a medium that would interpret dance through her eyes, using her language, and the more I looked through the history of dance film, the bigger my problem became. There’s a whole dimension missing in conventional film: space.

Three-D had never crossed my mind. Most 3-D content is rubbish, with the exception ofAvatar, and I am eternally grateful to James Cameron for advancing the form with that film. Then saw the U2 concert film, and it opened a huge door . . . it gave me a way into the missing space, a way to see dance from the inside out.

I said last week that I believe the novelty and pioneering spirit of “Pina” — plus the prestige and sentiment attached to the Wenders brand — could lead the Academy’s foreign-language executive committee to look kindly upon the film. I’m less sure what the documentary branch will make of it, if indeed they deem it eligible at all. Performance films have never really found favor with them, and many might not see this one as a documentary per se: bar the talking-head inserts in which dancers reflect on Bausch’s legacy (easily its least effective component), all the other action in the film is staged and styled for the camera.

Wenders scored his lone Oscar nod in this category for “The Buena Vista Social Club” in 1999 — losing the award to Kevin Macdonald in something of an upset at the time — but while that film had several performance sequences, they were contained in a more naturalistic performance context. “Pina” is more of a hybrid creature: further taking its technical wonders into account, it’d be nice to see it find some kind of home in awards season, but I’m not sure where.

[Photo: Sundance Selects]

→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

9 responses so far

  • 1 9-13-2011 at 6:07 am

    Graysmith said...

    3D is already over. It’ll be completely dead unless they drop the premium prices and charge equal to a 2D ticket, but even then I’m not sure it can be saved. You can only go so far with things flying in your face.

    It is a shame for those few filmmakers like Wenders, Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) and Martin Scorsese (Hugo) who might actually do something worthwhile with 3D, but it’s too little, too late.

  • 2 9-13-2011 at 6:46 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I don’t think the technology is “over”, though I do think its period of ubiquity might be drawing to a close. I can see it settling into a groove where only certain filmmakers, be it Wenders or James Cameron, use it for projects they feel it particularly has a place in — thus returning the original element of novelty to 3D work.

  • 3 9-13-2011 at 7:02 am

    Ben M. said...

    The 3D trend has slowed from where it was after Avatar and Alice being so successful in the format that I thought 2D may be going the way of black and white films. But I don’t think the idea that it is suddenly going away when its overseas popularity pushed three films over a billion worldwide over the summer makes sense either. We will probably see a bit fewer 3D films and it might be a case where smaller scale films (like the Final Destinations) really push the 3D aspect and get 75% or more of their money from 3D screens, and studios are okay with big blockbusters aimed at wider audiences being on more 2D screens and getting 40-45% of their domestic business from 3D and selling the 3D more overseas.

    Anyway, Pina sounds like it could be a very interesting film and I’m looking forward to seeing it at the NYFF, and I did feel U2-3D was a pretty impressive experience (though I saw it in Imax, which is the best 3D system IMO).

  • 4 9-13-2011 at 7:09 am

    Graysmith said...

    The 3D boom overseas is simply because the rest of the world has been slower to catch on. So it’s really very much a matter of being the new, hot thing that’s been driving 3D this year. Give it a year and the rest of the world will go the same way 3D went in North America this past summer with every diminishing returns.

  • 5 9-13-2011 at 8:36 am

    Rashad said...

    3D isn’t new to the world any more than it was new to us with Alice and Avatar. You’re timeline makes no sense.

  • 6 9-13-2011 at 1:57 pm

    Danny said...

    For the most part I’ve been avoiding 3D versions of films, starting with Clash of the Titans, because mostly it seemed like a rip-off and a way to take more money from me for questionable return (that I liked Clash of the Titans a little more than most may have to do with the fact that I didn’t see it in bad 3D). So Captain America, Thor, 4 out of 6 screenings of HPDH2, all fine in good old 2D.

    But Avatar and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (and to a much lesser extent UP) were brilliant in extraordinary 3D, and I expect the same from Pina. The trailer alone has me practically salivating. A dual nom for Foreign and Doc would be amazing, although I’d give the edge to foreign. I see how the fact that it’s hard to classify could have it fall through the cracks, come nomination time.

    But for now it is one if not the most anticipated film in my sights.

    Hopefully the audience turning on 3D for good reason will still recognize those movies where it is being used for good reason and not punish those films for the sins of the Hollywood 3D force feed machine.

    It would help if the ticket surcharge were more moderate too. Or not applied at all.

  • 7 9-14-2011 at 8:53 am

    Maxim said...

    It’s amazing to me that people Graysmith feel themselves experts enough in all aspects of 3D to not only be able to proclaim it dead but to also decide who could have been able to do something with it.

    Why not just accept that just because not every movie is done in 3D or the fact that every 3D movie is instantly a billion grosser doesn’t mean it’s about to go away?

    Who decided that the bar has to be set at 50%? Why not just accept that it’s closer to 20% and deal with it?

  • 8 8-05-2014 at 3:13 pm

    Jae said...

    Quand est-ce que t’exposes, genre au Moma comme e7a on voyage et le monde etenir re9alise l’e9vidence!Bon, ou alors au Guggenheim de Bilbao, comme e7a on vient avec toi faire des photos plus bas en Andalousie, justement j’ai un projet sur Don Quichotte.Et au fait, moi qui fais des films, et toi aussi note bien, pourquoi tu fais pas Directrice de la photo, parce que tt e7a c’est bien mais e7a bouge pas bcp…

  • 9 4-05-2015 at 9:44 am

    Tujuh said...

    i can’t wait to see ‘jiro dreams of sushi’ – it looks SO good. we acltualy just watched ‘being elmo’ on netflix – surprisingly good! fabulous story of following a dream…