The Five Obstructions

Watch The Five Obstructions

  • NR
  • 2003
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • 7.4  (9,133)
  • 79

The Five Obstructions is a Danish documentary film directed by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. The film follows the conversation between Lars von Trier, a Danish filmmaker, and Jørgen Leth, a fellow Danish filmmaker, in which von Trier challenges Leth to remake his 1967 short film, The Perfect Human, five times, each time with a new set of specific and challenging rules and guidelines.

The film begins with von Trier explaining his admiration for Leth's work and the inspiration behind the idea for the project. Leth is initially hesitant but ultimately accepts the challenge. Von Trier sets up five different "obstructions" for Leth to follow, each of which will result in a new version of the film. The obstructions include things like shooting the film in Cuba, with no sets or actors, and in cartoon form, with Leth providing voiceovers for the characters.

As Leth begins to work on each version, the film switches between behind-the-scenes footage of him working on the film, interviews with both filmmakers discussing the challenges and results of each obstruction, and clips of the different versions of the short film. The end result is not only an exploration of the art of filmmaking but also a study of the relationship between mentor and mentee, as well as the power of constraints and limitations in the creative process.

Throughout the film, Leth's frustrations and struggles with each obstruction are palpable. The challenges presented by von Trier are sometimes tedious and others hardly seem to belong in the realm of filmmaking, but Leth perseveres and manages to create something new and interesting with each obstacle.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the film is the way in which the different versions of The Perfect Human highlight the malleability of film as an art form and the vastly different interpretations that can arise from a simple change in parameters. While The Perfect Human may have started as a simple and straightforward short film, it is transformed through each obstruction into vastly different films, each with its own unique message and style.

The film also explores the nature of creative blockages and how they can be overcome through the introduction of limitations and challenges. Von Trier believes that limitations and obstacles are necessary for the creative process, with each obstruction serving as a way to break down preconceived notions and force Leth to think outside the box.

Ultimately, The Five Obstructions is a fascinating exploration of the creative process and the way in which limitations can push artists to new heights. It is an incredibly compelling and thought-provoking film that challenges the way we think about filmmaking and creativity, and it is a must-watch for anyone interested in the art of filmmaking.

The Five Obstructions is a 2003 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4 and a MetaScore of 79.

The Five Obstructions
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 30 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (9,133)
  • Metascore