Celestial Bodies



“My whole body understood it and I had cramps after, as if I’d been onstage myself,” says German director Wim Wenders of the first time he saw a piece by his dear friend Pina Bausch, the late German choreographer and subject of the filmmaker’s latest tour de force, Pina (Sundance Selects, December 23). Unlike in conventional 3-D movies, the figures in Wenders’ documentary do not pop out or invade your space—in fact, they do quite the opposite. Using Steadicam rigs, Wenders adroitly dissolves the distance between dancer and spectator so that, in observing every curvature of the bodies in motion, the viewer becomes part of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, the experimental dance-theater ensemble Bausch led from 1973 until her death in 2009. Staged in settings ranging from a busy intersection in Wuppertal to a glass room in the middle of the woods, the dancers merge reality and fantasy, like an expressionist painting brought to life.