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The Five Obstructions (2003)
"De fem benspænd" (original title)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,674 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 35 user | 81 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

About a filmmaker not only revisiting, but also recreating (not in a conventional sense) one of his first films, The Perfect Human / Det perfekte menneske (1967)

Directors:

(uncredited) , (uncredited)

Writers:

(poem), (script), 7 more credits »
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Documentary

Lars von Trier challenges Martin Scorsese to remake one of his projects five times, with a unique challenge for each project.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Martin Scorsese, Lars von Trier
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Claus Nissen ...
The Perfect Man - from 'Det perfekte menneske' 1967 (archive footage)
Majken Algren Nielsen ...
The Perfect Woman, from 'Det perfekte menneske' 1967) (archive footage) (as Maiken Algren)
Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez ...
The Perfect Man (segment "Obstruction #1 - The Perfect Human: Cuba")
Jacqueline Arenal ...
The Perfect Woman (segment "Obstruction #1 - The Perfect Human: Cuba")
Vivian Rosa
...
Voice-over (from "Det perfekte menneske" 1967) / Himself - Director (segments "The Conversations") / Voice-over (segment "The Perfect Human: Cuba," segment "The Perfect Human: Bombay," segment "The Perfect Human: Cartoon") / Himself -The Perfect Man - Voice-over (segment "The Perfect Human: Avedøre, Denmark")
...
The Perfect Man / Voice-over (segment "The Perfect Human: Brunelles Brussels") / Speaker (segment "Obstruction #4 - The Perfect Human: Cartoon")
Alexandra Vandernoot ...
The Perfect Woman (segment "The Perfect Human: Brunelles Brussels")
Marie Dejaer ...
Maid (segment "The Perfect Human: Brunelles Brussels")
Pascal Perez ...
Couple (Man) (segment "The Perfect Human: Brunelles Brussels")
Meschell Perez ...
Couple (Woman) (segment "The Perfect Human: BrunellesBrussels")
Bent Christensen ...
Gangster (from "Det gode og det onde" 1975) (segment "The Perfect Human: Cartoon" (archive footage)
...
Naked Man (from "Notater om kærligheden" 1989) ( fsegment "The Perfect Human: Cartoon" (archive footage)
Charlotte Sieling ...
Naked Woman (from "Notater om kærligheden" 1989) ( segment "The Perfect Human: Cartoon" (archive footage)
Jan Nowicki ...
Man with Jacket (from "Notater om kærligheden" 1989) ( segment "Obstruction #4 - The Perfect Human (archive footage)
Edit

Storyline

"The Five Obstructions", a 100 min. theatre documentary directed by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. An investigative journey into the phenomenon of "documentary", based on manifestos written by each director. About a filmmaker not only revisiting, but also recreating (not in a conventional sense) one of his first films, The Perfect Human / Det perfekte menneske (1967), a document on life in Denmark, containing the familiar Leth idiosyncrasies Written by jordan.savel@filmbyen.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

21 November 2003 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

As Cinco Obstruções  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,040 (USA) (28 May 2004)

Gross:

$92,221 (USA) (2 July 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The song played during The Perfect Human: Havana is "Planting the Seed" by David Holmes, which was also used in Ocean's 11 and appears on that movie's soundtrack. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Obstrucive brilliance!
27 December 2004 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

Lars von Trier is an unusual director, in that he makes films of massive emotional intensity, and yet also appears interested in formal innovation for its own sake: the Dogme manifesto, of which he was co-author, suggested that films should be made according to certain rules, partly for the expected benefits of following them, but also for the benefits of simply being constrained (a philosophy resembling that of Georges Perec and the Oulipop group of novelists). In some ways, 'The Five Obstructions' is both the perfect demonstration of this attitude, and also his strangest film yet. Jorgen Leth is a director who made, in 1967, von Trier's favourite film, an innovative (but arguably cold) short called 'The Perfect Human'; in 'The Five Obstructions', Leth agrees to remake this film in five different ways, subject to constraints imposed by von Trier. The story of his doing so, along with excerpts from all six films, comprises this one. It's the ultimate recursive project, a "making-of" documentary with itself as both subject and object, an effect enhanced by the way that each film becomes a commentary on, and an extension of, its predecessors. von Trier does not dare, however, to suggest he can improve on the original; on the contrary, he professes to hope that his obstructions will force Leth to make a bad film, and therefore reveal something more of his own emotions than have hitherto been shown. In this, however, he fails. 'The Five Obstructions' becomes a film-making masterclass, as Leth continually finds something new to say in spite of the increasing restrictions against him saying anything; his natural inventiveness, and skill, make you want to see the films he has chosen to make for himself. von Trier, by contrast, appears as a fool, although as the resulting documentary is his creation, he is maybe not as foolish as he appears. Indeed, there's almost certainly an unavoidable level of artifice in the apparently "real" scenes where the two men talk, each are too skilled as film-makers to be wholly unaware of what they are doing. But there does seem to be a real human story, as Leth's enthusiasm for his task, and for life itself, is driven upwards by the series of apparently insane challenges with which he is encumbered. It's an odd film for anyone to make, but maybe proves von Trier's point; for what stands above the contrivance is pure gold.


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