This is part review (I hope it’s helpful), and partly and attempt for me to analyse why I felt so frustrated and, ultimately, irritated by watching “A Movement of Movement’.
It’s a long film, 73 minutes to be precise. I note that, via Facebook, Siri Dharma Galliano (never short of a pithy remark), who participates in the film, suggests that it could be edited to a “tight thirty minutes”. I found myself wondering why we were seeing footage of the nice lady getting her child and buggy into a taxi, for example. Maybe this is showing ‘real’, or ordinary people who do/teach Pilates.
Everyone involved plays nicely – there’s a little bit of ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ but there’s no name-calling (or foul language)
It’s a great marketing opportunity for Balanced Body, and the Pilates Method Alliance. (And the claim that whether you use traditional or modern apparatus makes no difference goes unchallenged.)
It’s quite a lot longer than it needs to be. I think I may have already touched on that. Apologies.
It is nice to see lots of footage of JP, especially the multi-screen bits of him strutting his stuff in the Catskills.
There are some confusing messages:
It seems to be broadly agreed that there are a number of ways of doing the exercises (so there’s no single correct way) but there’s also a warning that, without a teacher to show you how to do the exercises “correctly”, you could hurt yourself.
Shortly after one of the interviewees declares that Joseph was so sickly as a child that he nearly died, there’s reference to him spending a lot of time as a child lying in the woods watching animals. I know that ‘he was a very ill child but knuckled down and healed himself and became a paragon of health and fitness’ is a good story, but my understanding is that there’s no evidence to support the sickly-child mythology. (And this was the man who wrote “I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life.”)
There are some inspiring stories. Sadly, they get swamped by lots of footage of interviewees practicing Pilates (and some other movements that look a bit like Pilates).
The film seems to be supportive of the 1990s lawsuit outcome – it is a good thing that ‘Pilates’ is now a generic term. There is no dissenting voice.
From watching the film I couldn’t work out what the filmmakers intentions were – what the purpose of the film was. It doesn’t seem to be intended as a pure celebration of the work of Joseph Pilates, nor is it a biographical work. I did some research and read that the directors intention was to create a film that does for Pilates what ‘The Endless Summer’ did for surfing, or ‘Dogtown and the Z-Boys’ did for skating. To quote the website:
“The one thing that all of these films have in common is a compelling story about something that came along and changed the world forever. Pilates has changed the world. We are living in a historical movement, a phenomenon of human experience. The movement is about us, it’s about today, and it’s about exploring our full potential, but what does that mean? That is what A Movement of Movement is.”
Unfortunately I don’t think that their own question (“..but what does this mean?”) is answered by the film. Perhaps part of the problem is that surfing, skating and other sports are quite different from Pilates. My understanding is that Joseph meant Pilates to be the practice that helped you be better at the things you love to do – surfing, skating, skiing, you name it. It’s not meant to be your favourite pastime or activity – if it is, maybe you missed the point. And I think that’s where the film falls down – it’s misunderstood its subject matter.
If you believe that:
the outcome of that (in)famous lawsuit was 100% positive;
that Pilates apparatus evolves and new apparatus should be added;
that there are many different versions of a given exercise, all equally valid;
there are no dissenting voices to these views;
And you enjoy watching people practicing Pilates on a terrace while the sun goes down and the sea softly laps on the shore – this is the film for you. I hope you enjoy it.
(As I said above, frustrated and irritated….)