Thursday, December 25, 2014

Blame it on Bono: Wenders has U2 to thank for Oscar-nominated 3-D dance doc

German filmmaker Wim Wenders had wanted to make a documentary about famed choreographer Pina Bausch for more than 20 years, but could never figure out how. And then he saw "U2 3D," and everything changed.

Blame it on Bono: Wenders has U2 to thank for Oscar-nominated 3-D dance doc

Wim Wenders gets all 3-D with Pina Bausch.
Wim Wenders gets all 3-D with Pina Bausch.

It was Wim Wenders’ eureka moment: sitting in a theater in 2007, he slipped on a pair of black plastic 3-D specs and settled back to watch his buddy Bono in the giant screen concert film, U2 3D. And suddenly, everything became clear – he knew how to make his long-discussed documentary about internationally renowned choreographer Pina Bausch.

 “I had been debating with Pina for 20 years about this film, and stalling for time, and hesitating,” explains Wenders . ”I just didn’t know how to do it. I had huge reservations about filming dance, not because of the beauty of dance -- but because I felt my craft was inadequate. The tools couldn’t really do justice to the life experience.... And so, for twenty years, Pina and I had this running gag going. Each time we’d meet she’d ask, `Well, do you know now?’

“`Give me more time, Pina, I still don’t know.’”

And then Wenders found his solution, “in an area where I had not looked before, and that was technology. It was at the very beginning of the digital 3-D wave…. I put on these glasses innocently and thought I was going to have fun, I love the music, and instead I sat there mesmerized and couldn’t wait for it to end, because from the first shot it was clear this was the answer to our question -- Pina and I. And I just wanted to call her. So while the credits were running I dashed out and gave her a call, and the only thing I had to say was, `I think I know now how to do it.’

 “It was so obvious: what we were missing was the very element of dance – space!”

Pina was nominated for a best documentary feature Academy Award this Tuesday. It’s playing now – in 3-D, of course – at United Artists RiverView, United Artists King of Prussia, AMC Neshaminy and Rave Motion Pictures at the Ritz Center/NJ.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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