pina – The Criterion Collection #644 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 21, 2013 by  

Beautifully shot!  A wonderful tribute by filmmaker Wim Wenders to the German modern-dance pioneer, Pina Bausch.  This is possibly one of the most unique films that is featured in the Criterion Collection and it was definitely a wonderful experience!  Wim Wenders “Pina” and this Criterion Collection release is deserving of five stars!  Highly recommended!

Image are courtesy of © 2013 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: pina – The Criterion Collection #644


DURATION: 103 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, 5.1 Surround in German, English, Russian, French, Italian, Slovene, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean with English subtitles.


RELEASE DATE: January 22, 2013

Directed by Wim Wenders

Screenplay by Wim Wenders


Pina Bausch

Regina Advento

Malou Airaudo

Ruth Amarante

Rainer Behr

Andrey Berezin

Damiano Ottavio Biggi

Benedicte Billet

Ales Cucek

Clementine Deluy

Josephine Ann Endicott

Lutz Forster

Pablo Aran Gimeno

Mechthild Grossmann

Silvia Farias Heredia

Ditta Miranda Jasifi

Barbara Kaufmann

Nayoung Kim

Daphnis Kokkinos

Ed Kortlandt

Eddie Martinez

Dominique Mercy

Thusnelda Mercy

Cristiana Morganti

Morena Nascimento

Nazareth Panadero

Helena Pikon

Fabien Prioville

Jean-Laurent Sasportes

Franko Schmidt

Azusa Seyama

Julie Shanahan

Julie Anne Stanzak

Michael Strecker

Aida Vaineri

Anna Wehsarg

Tsai-Chin Yu

The boundless imagination and physical marvels of the work of the German modern-dance pioneer Pina Bausch leap off the screen in this exuberant tribute by Wim Wenders. A long-planned film collaboration between the director and the choreographer was in preproduction when Bausch died in 2009. Two years later, Wenders decided to go ahead with the project, reconceiving it as an homage to his late friend. The result, shot in stunning 3D, is a remarkable visual experience and a vivid representation of Bausch’s art, enacted by a group of staggeringly talented dancers from her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Pina is an adventurous work of cinema that highlights the bold legacy of one of the world’s true creative visionaries.

“Dance, Dance, otherwise we are lost”

Pina Bausch, a German performer best known for her pioneering work on modern dance as a choreographer, teacher and a ballet director.

A unique style that was bold, creative and different, so much that traditional dance critics had a hard time understanding her unique style back in the ’70s.  But it’s a style that people would soon regard as magnificent due to her blend of movements and prominent stage sets and her cooperation with performers during the composition of a piece (a style known as Tanztheater),

For renown filmmaker Wim Wenders known for films such as “Wings of Desire”, “Paris, Texas”, “Until the End of the World”, “The American Friend” and many more, his interest in Pina Bausch began in 1985 when he was dragged to a production by his friend Solveig Dommartin.  Having no interest in dance at the time, it was when he began to watch, he was so moved that he wept.

Since then, he had co-authored a book with Donata Wenders titled “Pina: The Film and the Dancers”, but for 20-years, he had wanted to make a documentary about Pina but at the time, there was no way to capture the dancing performance on camera, to make the audience feel anywhere close to how others feel when they watched a Pina Bausch production live.

Fast forward to 2008 and when Wim Wenders watched 3D technology used in U2’s concert, he realized that he can now take on the film using modern digital 3D technology to give the illusion of depth.

And so, Wim Wenders and Pina Bausch set out to create the documentary.  Unfortunately in 2009, Pina Bausch was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 68 and five days after diagnosis, she had past away, two days before the shooting of the documentary.

But with the members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch troupe encouraging Wenders to continue the documentary as a memorial for Pina Bausch, two years later, “pina” would premiere at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.  It would receive critical acclaim worldwide and also nominated for an Academy award for “Best Documentary Feature”.

And now, “pina” will be released on Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray combo and on DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection in January 2013.

“pina” will feature excerpts from performances of “Cafe Muller”, “Le sacre du printemps”, “Knotakthof” and “Vollmond” from the members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch troupe including interstitial scenes with the dancers who give their stories about Pina in their native language (with English subtitles) and also archived footage of Pena.

Mesmerizing, beautiful and complex, we are taken on an adventure to an artistic world of Pina Bausch and learning how this woman, strict but a wonderful teacher, believed in her dancers to create magic and most importantly as Bausch had told one of her dancers, to have them “dance for love”.


For “pina”, the film was a laborious and challenging film for Wim Wenders and crew to take on and make sure everything looked right in 3D and the finally for the 2D version.

It’s important to note that to view the 3D version of the film, you must have a 3D Blu-ray enabled player and television.  And what is most amazing about the 3D presentation of “pina” is its depth.  This is one aspect of the film that the crew wanted to make sure they got it right and they did.  The feeling of depth and trying to capture how one would see things in a theater performance.  Bare in mind that it’s not 100% exact in trying to capture that experience but the choice to shoot in 3D was the best choice because the film was able to accomplish depth using today’s 3D technology with complete efficacy.

Watching it in 2D, the film also looks amazing in colors and detail.  From the opening dance with the red dress which looks vibrant to the many outdoor and indoor scenes, this is a film that looks visually impressive and there are no problems with this Blu-ray whatsoever.  It’s fantastic!

According to the Criterion Collection, “pina” was shot in three shooting blocks, on three different camera systems: the Sony HDC-1500 in October 2009, the Sony HDC-P1 in April 2010 and the Sony EX3 in June 2010, using Zeiss DigiPrime lenses of 7 mm, 10 mm, 14 mm and 20 mm.  The on-set recording was done on a Sony SRW-1, on HDcam SR tapes and a Codex Server.

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 4:3 televisions, this image will be letterboxed.

The post-production 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 a 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 35 mm Kodak Negative 2383 stock using an ArriLaswer.  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.


“pina – The Criterion Collection #644” is presented in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.  Because Pina Bausch’s dancers are from various countries, the languages presented are in German, English, Russian, French, Italian, Slovene, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean with English subtitles.  Dialogue is crystal clear as with the music by composer Thom (“Land of Plenty”, “Palermo Shooting”).

According to the Criterion Collection, the 5.1 soundtrack presented on this release is identical to the theatrical mix.


“pina – The Criterion Collection #644” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by director Wim Wenders.
  • The Making of “pina” – (45:33) Wim Wenders takes us behind-the-scenes of the the making of “pina” and the challenges faced technically for the crew in terms of making this film in 3D.
  • Deleted Scenes – 14 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Wim Wenders.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage  – Footage for les sacrie di printemps (1:21), vollmond (2:37), kontakhof (1:13), solo in a glasshouse (:41) and various solos (2:15)
  • Wim Wenders– (45:33) Interview with Wim Wenders from 2011 that was used to promote the theatrical release.
  • Trailer – (1:41) The original theatrical trailer for “pina”.


“pina – The Criterion Collection #644” comes with an 38-page booklet with the following essay, “Dancing for Dance” by Siri Hustvedt and “Pina Baush on Her Work” (quotes from her presentation that she gave in 2007 at the Kyoto Prize Workshop in Arts and Philosophy).

I have reviewed a good number of dance films on Blu-ray but the Criterion Collection release of “pina” is the most impressive that I have ever watched.

This is a film that must be experienced visually, one should not even dare to try explain it because Pina Bausch’s choreography, the dances that are featured in this wonderful documentary is just a visual feast that will no doubt impress you.  Even for the naysayers who may not be interested in modern dance, watching this film may give them the opportunity to see something that they have never have seen before and enjoy it.

I’m am very grateful to director Wim Wenders for pursuing in the making of this documentary as it is a perfect memorial for the late Pina Bausch.  But also for utilizing 3D for a dance film and show what can be accomplished with today’s 3D technology and putting it to great use.

Also, for those who don’t own a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player or television, you can still enjoy the 2D version.  While you won’t have the illusion of depth, it’s still a film that can be enjoyed visually.

Beautifully shot!  A wonderful tribute by filmmaker Wim Wenders to the German modern-dance pioneer, Pina Bausch.  This is possibly one of the most unique films that is featured in the Criterion Collection and it was definitely a wonderful experience!

Wim Wenders “Pina” and this Criterion Collection release is deserving of five stars! Highly recommended!

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