The Five Obstructions
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- Leth's 1967 short film "The Perfect Human"
Top Customer Reviews
This film was brilliant to say the least. I went into it without really knowing anything about Jorgen Leth, and finished wanting to see more of his work. I was impressed with his original film The Perfect Human and thought that his four remakes were nothing short of outstanding. Each one was perfect in its own right and yet somehow was able to continue the overall themes and elements. They were works of a genius. This leads me to another question I had while watching this film. Did Trier know that Leth could do this? Trier was once a student of Leth and considers him to be the best director our there, he must have known that Leth could accomplish such tasks. In fact, I think this may have been Trier's way of allowing a new generation to experience the brilliant mind of Leth. Trier pushed Leth to new levels, but I think in a way he knew that Leth would be able to overcome and provide some new and beautiful shots. Trier seemed like a very hard nosed person in this film, and that he constantly ordered, instead of asking his subject to do things. I think we witnessed Trier in his original form.Read more ›
On this subject I differ. I rented the movie & immediately wanted to find out if I could purchase it (& whether it was abnormally expensive, like some art films can be). In looking through the other reviews, I was glad to see strong appreciation...but startled to perceive that so many people seemed to miss the point of the film.
This movie is not ABOUT the abject experiment of recreating a short film under different circumstances (or "obstructions") by a great director. Yes, that's superficially what happens (and yes, as others have said, the original & remakes are profoundly masterful & captivating).
But the "heart" of this movie lies in the student reaching out a helpful hand to a depressed and reclusive director -who the student truly loves.
The student (now an accomplished director himself) creates this set of obstructions for his teacher in order to reinvigorate the old man -to bring him new challenges of life, intellect, and craft, and ultimatley to pay tribute to the mentor he so admires.
We, as the audience, get to watch this in documentary style. We also get to see the four film versions (and the original) that the master-teacher comes up with. But as the movie draws to an end, we see that the experiments of film-making were not the real point.
Indeed the fifth version of "The Perfect Human" is made as a tribute to the teacher by the student! It involves very telling film-narratives of the teacher in action. We see his humanity, his patience, his intensity -all as told by the student.Read more ›
Don't be put off (as I was) by the structure, in which Leth is challenged to remake one of his 1960s experimental films, subject to a series of constraints imposed by von Trier. It sounds like a recipe for self-indulgent intellectual backslapping, and my expectations were low when the first 'obstruction' was a limit of 12 frames (half a second) on the length of each shot. But when, to von Trier's stifled dismay, Leth produces a beautifully rhythmical and sensual response, I realised I was watching something special. The sheer talent of the principals, driven by each's urge to prove themself equal to the other, makes this a fascinating exploration not just of creativity but also friendship.
Something that I felt was very beautiful about the movie was that even though Lars van Trier seemed sadistic, he really loved his friend. He is a true friend in the sense that he wanted to push Jorgen Leth past the limits of what Leth thought he could do. In short, van Trier helped Leth to grow as a person. In the end, it was mentioned that with each obstruction, Leth grew more and more confident of himself.
After all, we are at our most creative and innovative when we are restricted by limits. How can you think "outside the box", when you are given absolute freedom?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This DVD is fantastic for any budding director or storyteller. I can't tell you how many times I lent this DVD out. I never get bored of this movie.Published 10 months ago by ann
Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier are excellent film makers, excellent content. I would highly recommend viewing this film. CheersPublished on January 2, 2014 by fresh nancy
This movie caught me by surprise with it's genius and creativity. I watched it at least three times in a row when I first saw it.Published on December 17, 2013 by Juli
One of the strangest and I would venture to say one of the most highly entertaining documentaries I have seen in recent memory. Very funny. Read morePublished on October 31, 2013 by Cogito, ergo sum
The original film by Leth was a masterpiece. The challenges Von Trier puts forth force the brilliant Leth to overcome obstacles he finds stifling. Read morePublished on March 19, 2013 by Arthur Simoes
Modern art house director Lars von Trier spends a few months torturing his idol, the experimental documentarian Jørgen Leth, in a variety of cruel and unusual ways. Read morePublished on February 15, 2012 by drqshadow
I'm aware that the second I start talking about this movie, I'm stepping into a cultural minefield. Lars Von Trier is a divisive director at best, with everyone either loving him... Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by CADJewellerySkills
In a film that defies easy classification, Lars von Trier plays the role of perverse provocateur to his former teacher and cinematic idol, the Danish film icon Jorgen Leth. Read morePublished on October 28, 2009 by Nate