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

Unrated  |   |  Documentary  |  21 November 2003 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,232 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 37 user | 83 critic | 22 from

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")
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)
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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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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
See  »

Did You Know?


During one of the conversation segments in the documentary Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth agree that Leth will receive full credit for the fifth and final Obstruction entitled "The Perfect Human: Avedøre, Denmark" despite not directing it, and that Trier will receive none, although he will direct it. This, apparently, is within the rules of the game played out by the two directors during the documentary, and serves as an inside joke. See more »


Edited from Good and Evil (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

20 July 2006 | by (London, UK) – See all my reviews

The film has two points of interest: the discussions between the two men as to what might constitute the limitations (the obstructions) - as good a way as any of discussing the content of the elusive original - and the behaviour of both men in the pursuit & rendition of the exercise.

As a document that presents the perversity of the 'boardroom' pragmatism of film-making and its melodramatic content this is quite hard to beat. The five versions are satisfyingly varied, although we are not shown any in full as far as I can make out. Their relative value is of little importance; von Trier's final 'twist' obstruction doesn't really come off in fact although it may be seen to be the most likely to succeed. In this way we are also shown something of the pot luck of producing a good film.

Above all though I came away trying to contain an imagination fomented on either side, both by the possibilities of the content of all six films (again, some more than others) and also by the auteur role; the possibilities and responsibilities faced when pointing a camera. And I'd always rather leave the theatre blinded with a brain bloated than a brain dead. 8/10

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