One of the best films of 2011 finally hits theaters in the U.S. today. Wim Wenders' "PINA" is a marvelous, magnificent, necessary and pioneering 3D documentary. I reviewed the film back in October during the New York Film Festival. Here's an excerpt.
What I found especially tremendous is the way I felt so much of the weight of people and objects on the screen. I literally tensed up more in my seat than I've ever been conscious of, and I couldn't immediately understand why. Was it that the dancers have such an illusion of weightlessness that down below I felt my own gravity? Was it the tension of their muscles that reflected back in my own body's mimicry, perhaps for identification? I believe it had most to do with the dancing that wasn't as airy, the moves that are graceful yet still very heavy. You can see the gravity in footprints — dirt is outside and on stage — in the splashing and downpour of water — again, some of the indoor acts include a lot of natural elements, in the snapping of cords and the intentionally slow motion of a woman with a man on her back. Sounds definitely enhance this sense of gravity, but it's certainly the result of the 3D's rendering of the physical space and all of its laws.
I also talked with Wenders this week for an interview posted at the Documentary Channel Blog. He talked about "PINA," why 3D is the future of documentary if not all of cinema and shared some information about his exciting next 3D documentary, which is about architecture. Here's an excerpt from our chat, his response to my suggestion that 3D is a great way to get audiences into the cinemas to see nonfiction films:
I think it is an excellent tool for documentaries, for the future and even now. In the beginning obviously, when we started, it was a little extravagant because of cost. But when we finished, in the last days of shooting, when we had little money left, we did the last shots with two Canon 5D cameras. And that worked well. And I did shoot with my students in 3D, and everybody made either a ten minute documentary or fictional film. So it is affordable now.
Apart from that, I think it’s a fabulous tool for documentaries because you get so much closer to your subject, and the audience is so much more in the presence of the person that the film is about and the world that you take them into. It’s more there. You can transport your audience to the universe of the film. I really think it’s a much better medium for the documentary in the long run than for the narrative form.