61 – The Five Obstructions (2003)


Director: Lars von Trier Starring: Lars von Trier, Jørgen Leth, Claus Nissen, Majken Algren Nielsen Running time: 90 mins

Subject: That von Trier, he’s a card isn’t he, always pushing boundaries by shooting films in which unimaginable suffering is inflicted on characters and, by extension, viewers. What’s he got up his sleeve here then? Well… in a bid to help his pal, film director Jørgen Leth, who now dwells in Haiti and apparently suffers from depression, von Trier challenges Leth to remake his 1967 short film The Perfect Human five times inventing five obstructions to the creative process. These obstructions range from having each edit feature no more than 12 frames to shooting a dinner scene in the “most miserable place on earth” – Leth chooses the slums of Bombay. A strange documentary, repetitive and self-referential by nature, the engine is friendship and  the peculiar energy that comes from von Trier’s sometimes helping, sometimes hindering hand. The five films made in spite of the obstructions are intriguing but come nowhere near Leth’s splendid original which is well worth seeking out.

Like: Watching master von Trier throw a stick further and further away for the loyal Leth to return transformed into a film.

Core truth: Creativity will lead us out of depression.


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