The Five Obstructions: an Obstruction, Indeed.

Just when I thought we would finally be watching a nice, comprehensible, normal movie from the 2000s, we are shown The Five Obstructions by Jørgen Leth and Lars von Trier. To say I was confused is an understatement. I mean, almost all movies that we have been tasked to watch in this class has made me quite perplexed, anyway. But I got a different kind of confusion from this movie. I’m afraid, it was not the positive kind. I don’t normally sleep when watching a movie, but this one made me quite sleepy. Maybe because I felt like there was no conflict at all. It was not a typical film with a story. No offense to the creators of the film, but the unending conversation between directors really bored me to tears.


Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best to be interested in this film, but I just could not comprehend it. I knew they were both directors trying to make a movie about The Perfect Human, their constant bickering made this clear for me. The only thing that kept me interested in the movie were the dance steps of the man in white, and the reactions of the Cubans behind the transparent screen and how they probably found the man weird. I also thought that maybe the two directors would fight and have a big argument because of the work that they are trying to achieve, but they didn’t. The two directors seemed like two very talented ones with so much passion and creativity to showcase but they could just not get into an agreement.


The Five Obstructions seemed to overlap the documentary part of the film, along with the actual film, which I thought was nice. I did not like, however, how the images kept repeating and zooming in and then out again, and then showed it again in the same way twice or thrice over. It felt a bit overwhelming for me and I think I had to close my eyes for a while because it was making me dizzy. Just like the film Persona, The Five Obstructions also showed repeating images, weird close-ups, and rewinding scenes. It also made use of alternating images and flipping ones. The technique, for me, was sort of like the start of a very hippie and artsy fashion commercial. It worked for a while, but when constantly showed in the same way, it gets duller, “nakakaumay,” in Filipino.

thefiveobstructionspic2Suddenly, I became more attracted to the film when it started showing The Perfect Human in a cartoon version. This gave a pop of color to the scenes and gave it more life. The artistic effect that it brought was a “buzzer beater” for me. All of a sudden, I was able to appreciate what the directors were trying to work on, and the strange shots of people became nice to watch. I may not have appreciated the movie from the start, but The Five Obstructions showcased a lot of creativity and artistic skills from the directors. Maybe their style is just really not for people like me.

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