THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS (Lars von Trier - Belgium/Denmark/France/Switserland 2003).
Lars von Trier is not known for trying to please his audiences, but this one is different... Probably, it wasn't his intention while making this film either, but with THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS he has come up with something surprisingly entertaining. In this documentary-like film he challenges one of his favorite filmmakers (and his old film school professor) Jorgen Leth to produce a remake of his 1967 short film "The Perfect Human", each to be directed by Leth according to von Trier's diktat, or his 'Five Obstructions'. The result is an interesting documentary about Leth's efforts and the limitations each artist has to impose on himself to create art or - in this case - film.
The first obstruction is that Jorgen Leth should make a movie where no edit can last more than 12 frames (about half a second) and it must be shot on Cuba. Leth states it's impossible and can't be done, but he tries anyway and succeeds in making a wonderful film and von Trier is delighted with the results. Now he must make a film in the worst place on earth where he is "the perfect human." Leth is put to the test even more and decides to shoot in a red-light district in Bombay where he stages a sumptuous and decadent dinner table on the street, where he dines in smoking, while hordes of impoverished locals are watching him eat.
The quality of the remakes may vary, but the film really comes to live when the two men meet. After the Bombay experiment Von Trier downtalks him, claiming he didn't stick to his obstructions, but Leth remains polite and buoyant during some of the brilliant verbal sparring matches about the endless limitations and possibilities of the medium. Despite Leth's difficulties in coping with the obstructions von Trier imposed on him, his most difficult assignment is when he is given complete freedom to make whatever he wants. It turned out to be the ultimate punishment von Trier could give him.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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