The Five Obstructions (2003)

LARS VON TRIER, JORGEN LETH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  

Original title:  De Fem Bespaend

Denmark/Switzerland/Belgium/France, 2003.  Almaz Film Productions S.A., Panic Productions, Wajnbrosse Productions, Zentropa Real ApS.  Screenplay by , , Jorgen Leth, Lars von Trier.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Film Editing by , .  Toronto International Film Festival 2003

In this highly original documentary, famed unconventional filmmaker  invites celebrated documentarian  to participate in a motivating artistic challenge: to remake his popular 1967 experimental film The Perfect Human five times, each time using a list of limitations that Von Trier provides for him from his overly fertile imagination. The original film was a series of scenes that examined human bodies against white backgrounds. In the remakes, the figures are now from different parts of the world, sometimes animated figures (and beautifully animated to boot) and, in one memorable section, Leth himself with the people of Calcutta providing a poignant background around him. In between the five films, the documentary camera records conversations between the two filmmakers whenever Leth returns to Copenhagen from a location in which he has shot an installment of the project, and also gives some information about the making of the films themselves. It’s a terrific examination of the nature of artistic inspiration and the value of respecting creative limitations, and it’s surprisingly humorous as well.

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