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"The Five Obstructions", a 100 min. Dano-Belgian 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
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 »
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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