So first of all, I thought Wim Wenders’s film was beautiful, stirring, evocative, and full of feeling, making probably the best case for 3D as a magnificent cinematic tool.
The one thing that did somewhat bother me, however, was the portrayal of women in some of Pina’s works. Most of the women roles seem to be subservient objects, controlled by men (occasionally physically abusive men), who limber around aimlessly waiting for a male counterpart to come and pick them up. I assume much of this is supposed to be social commentary, on gender roles, on female oppression, but nonetheless it still disturbed me.
I give her the benefit of the doubt though, as most – if not all – of the pieces shown in the movie seem to be performed with the intention to provoke and get under your skin. I will just assume she was a provocateur who very much wanted these intense, often disturbing emotions to arise in the audience. I know nothing about the woman other than what I was told in the film, so I could very well be missing something big here. What’s your view on this? Can someone help illuminate Pina’s intentions?
From some academic study of Bausch, here
“Bausch has frequently remarked that most of her pieces deal with searching for love and intimacy, and relationships—particularly between men and women, with all their tensions and difficulties. There are many other recurrent themes but none has drawn more attention, at least in the United States, than the frequent depiction of violence, especially against women. Bausch makes clear that she is no champion of violence but that it must be portrayed for the audience to feel the suffering and anger it engenders. She has often been called a feminist but refuses to be labeled as such, and denies that there is any social or political agenda to her works.
Other recurring themes are angst, loneliness, alienation, the inability to make human connections, rejection, and the struggle for self-identity. But alongside these more somber themes are moments of humor, tenderness, and hope, which are often overlooked"
I think it’s an excellent film, the way it uses space, and spreads outwards from the dance theatre into Wuppertal and countryside. Bausch inevitably has had her critics, one calling her the pornographer of pain.
I always thought that Pina Bausch’s dance was supposed to provoke, so it’s interesting to know that she intended no political and social agenda. Apart from the themes that Kenji mentioned, I feel that there is a lot emphasis on freedom, both physically and emotionally. Formally it is also much more free and visually disturbing than what one usually sees in ballet eg. elegant swan en pointe.
I agree it has quite a creative use of space. Some of the settings are remarkable architectural projects built in the Ruhrgebiet in recent years. I’m going to Wuppertal in 2 weeks and will definitely visit those places.
In terms of structure, the film does break out from the conventional way of portrait documentary through interesting insertion of what could be refered to more as complimentary remarks and observations to corresponding dance piece rather than interviews. Hommage line-up was nice, though not really that fresh. It does feel towards the end to me a little bit like a collection of dance extracts and I see myself craving for more insight. However given that I’m never keen on dance in general, I think the film has done a remarkable job engaging me throughout. This is also due to the fact that (from what I’ve seen in the film) Pina Bausch’s aesthetics in costumes, stage design, lighting… appears modern, slick, minimalistic and those things are generally quite appealing to me. If this were a documentary about traditional ballet, I think I wouldn’t survive past 30 minutes.
I’m not up on dance either, and enjoyed the dances, and was glad to see the overhead rail at Wuppertal, as in Alice in the Cities, again. I find the Bausch dances very expressive, i suppose reactions can be provoked without wishing to make specific political points, but the gender relationships are handled interestingly. Whether it’s more liberating for or oppressive towards women seems to be a main subject of debate, but i wasn’t disturbed by it- then again, maybe we’re immunised by the amount of violence and pain in cinema generally. That film violence has too often been either glamourised or milked for its vicious content, which didn’t strike me as a problem with Bausch, who seems to be getting to the heart of issues of communication, emotional distance, alienation and also connections for men and women alike, i think reflecting the world as it is, and what it could be. What i saw i didn’t feel fitted into pornographic milking or shallow attempt to shock, but something reaching for an emotional core. No doubt the impact would be different in a theatre and with longer dances.
1: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2: And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7: And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8: And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9: And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10: And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11: And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12: And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13: And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14: And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16: Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17: And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20: And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
21: Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
22: And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24: So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
p.s i hate that chapter in Genesis. Turbulent gets to the heart of a painful age-old separation. I was gonna add a pic of Belmonod and Karina kissing in Pierrot le Fou but then i remembered how it ends and for Godard-Karina too.
Oh well, here it is anyway
i suppose the scene of Kane and his wife ever further apart at the breakfast table might be worth adding too….
Yeah, let’s not play the PC card that easily. Just because not all women are demure does not mean none of them are allowed to be, especially in the case of abstract dance routines.