A Witty Documentary: The Five Obstructions

            The film, The Five Obstructions is a very interesting, witty, and playful documentary of Lars von Trier. The work was probably the easiest film that von Trier’s had to create as it seems as if most of the work, that he’s had to do in particular, was done before the whole documentary was filmed. Perhaps, this is the most fun and least amount of work a director has had to do in terms of directing a film. Despite the lack of work the von Trier’s had to do to make the film, it is this very concept that makes the film quite entertaining to its audience. This is what makes The Five Obstructions my favorite film amongst the films that have been shown in. class.

            Lars von Trier posed a challenge to another filmmaker and friend, Jorgen Leth. Leth’s twelve-minute film, The Perfect Human was actually von Trier’s favorite film. The challenge of von Trier to his old friend was to remake the movie in through five different obstructions(obstacles), each in the manner as instructed by the former, hence the title of the film. At the beginning of the film, it was easy to feel bad for the middle-aged filmmaker, Jorgen Leth, as he appeared to continually be bullied by von Trier, as he needs to comply and achieve the certain obstacles, he’s handed to him. Leth even calls von Trier “insane” at some point, regarding his demands. I sympathized for Leth as he was trying to accomplish the first three obstructions. He appeared to be punished at certain points of the film when remakes were not done to von Trier’s liking. Despite the high demands of von Trier, it showed that he was a filmmaker that most colleagues would look up to, with the way Leth complied with the tasks that he was handed.

            The 4th obstruction or challenge that was presented to Jorgen Leth by Lar von Trier was the cartoon. This is what appeared to be the most challenging for both filmmakers as they repeatedly said in the film that they both hated that type of genre. Leth had to find a way to be able to remake it in such a way that he would also enjoy, which seemed to be a tall task. As the remake was shown to both filmmakers and the audience, everyone displayed and expressed their awe in the manner that Leth was able to achieve this.

Despite the manner of which von Trier displays himself, as shown in his experimental film which he simply directs from a distance as he lies on his couch, you can see his grit and determination in terms of being able to push fellow colleagues that he also looked up to even better their work. You can see his love for the industry as he encourages other filmmakers, and the viewers to learn how to continue to have a sense of hunger and wonder in being able to achieve and do more. As we will be able to accomplish so many things in our lives, he teaches us to never be contented and try to create an even better version of ourselves.

            With the amount of wit that von Trier possesses, I look forward to watching much more films of the cocky director as the playfulness and cleverness of the ideas as displayed in The Five Obstructions is one that I will continue to admire and appreciate.

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