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

Unrated  |   |  Documentary  |  21 November 2003 (Denmark)
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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)


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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")
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)
Man with Jacket (from "Notater om kærligheden" 1989) ( segment "Obstruction #4 - The Perfect Human (archive footage)


"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

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Release Date:

21 November 2003 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

As Cinco Obstruções  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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


$92,221 (USA) (2 July 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Edited from Notes on Love (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Lars; Forever The Enigma
2 November 2006 | by (Springdale, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

Lars Von Trier instigated this endlessly fascinating cinema experiment with fellow Danish filmmaker, and mentor/hero; Jorgen Leth. Trier challenged Leth to remake his 1967 short film "The Perfect Human" five different times, each time with a different set of obstructions or conditions. The obstructions range from technical to philosophical, and are sometimes plucked out at random by Trier in direct response to Leth's actions or words, during their many whimsical, very funny, nebulous exchanges. The most diabolical condition Trier concocts is of coarse that Leth has no conditions, which places all the potential blame, guilt, pressure, and creative insecurity totally back on Leth himself. Nothing though seems to get the better of Leth, and Trier appears to be frustrated and bemused every time Leth brings back a good film, of which we get to see the process and clips of the end creation. Trier states he wants to "banalize," Leth and each time hopes Leth will fail and return with a bad film, but Leth never does. Each reworking of The Perfect Human (1967) is an interesting and often poetic creation (at least the snippets that we get to see). One version is even animated by Bob Sabiston; the guy responsible for the great rotoscopish, brightly colored animation process and design in Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2005). It's hard to decipher Trier's true nature; at times he seems playful and at others, deadly serious. His intentions are (deliberately?) obscure. Is it all just a friendly game of chess or full on metaphysical warfare? This uncertainty and the sheer novelty of seeing Lars Von Trier and Jorgen Leth toy with each other on screen makes for a great shifty-eyed, quasi-exploratory, neo-deadpan, pseudo-straight-laced, doc-o-comedy, mock-drama.

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