The Five Obstructions

Five Obstructions is a documentary film by Lars von Trier and Jorgen Leth. Lars challenged Jorgen to remake Leth’s The PerfectHuman five times wherein each time there would be an obstruction when filming. The first obstruction was to film the perfect human in Cuba, without a set and making sure that no shot would be longer than twelve frames while making sure that he still answers the questions posed in the original film. For the second obstruction, Leth would have to remake the film in the worst place in the world without showing it in screen.  Also, Leth must play the role of the “man” himself and must include the meal while the women is not included. Leth decided on the red light district of Mumbai. Since Leth failed the second obstruction as Lars comment on his end product was “This is not the film I asked for!” Lars gave him two options, the first option was to remake the film in any way he chooses or to repeat the second obstruction and to go back to Mumbai. The fourth obstruction was to remake the film as a cartoon with the help of Bob Sabiston who is a specialist in rotoscoping and creates animated versions of shots from the previous films. Even though they both hate to work with animation, this became a great experience for the both of them as practice and to be able to understand more of the different kinds of filming. The fifth obstruction is that Lars has made the fifth version already, but it must be credited as Leth’s, and Leth must read a voice-over narration from his own perspective even though it was written by Lars.

The entire movie was playing different versions of “The Perfect Human” trying to portray each version as different movies but still trying to make sure some of the things remain the same as the two directors work together. As someone who is not that interested in the arts, the movie was not for me. Repetition of the perfect human again and again even if the movie tried hard to portray each obstruction as a different movie, got me bored. For people who are interested in the arts however, it would be a great film as it showed different techniques that are available in filming. It also showed how even though Leth is already one of the veterans in film making and is quite old, he could still think of new ways to remake his old film. He was challenged to go out of his comfort zone in his filming career. Leth’s style is clean, spare and classical and through the challenges given by Lars, he had to try new ways that he is not that comfortable with. However he was still able to deliver 5 different versions of “the Perfect Human” that are still up to standard. Leth was forced to demolish and destroy “the perfect human” multiple times and even his style in filming for this challenge that was presented to him by Lars.

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