The Five Obstructions
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Danish auteur Lars von Trier directs the documentary-of-sorts The Five Obstructions (De Fem Benspænd). In 2001, von Trier convinces veteran filmmaker Jørgen Leth to create five remakes of his 1967 short The Perfect Human. Calling himself the Obstructor, von Trier orders Leth to make his films in various parts of the world with extremely specific demands. For instance, the first film must be shot in Cuba with no set with only 12 frames per shot. The five remakes-within-the-film are "The Perfect Human: Bombay," "The Perfect Human: Brussels," "The Perfect Human:… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It's amusing only if you agree not to think very much about it."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The relationship between the two filmmakers raises it above the category of academic experiment. Von Trier brings a diabolical glee to his role, and Leth matches it with an older, wiser brand of mischief."
‑ John Hartl, Seattle Times
"[...]The reason The Five Obstructions lingers as an essential part of von Trier's filmography [...] is because it reveals so much about why von Trier has worked the way he has in the past [...]"
‑ Noel Murray, The Dissolve
"Fascinating (and oft-times infuriating)."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"Despite his own pessimism, I think Von Trier does change Leth as an artist, a little, through these chastisements."
‑ Martin Scribbs, Mixed Reviews
"A film like this has a limited audience, I suppose, but for that audience it offers a rare fascination."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"In this enjoyable if trivial battle between von Trier's psychodrama theatricality and Leth's cool formalism, it's ultimately the viewer who comes out the winner."
‑ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"Von Trier is rejuvenating his mentor's imagination. He's also reminding him that art can 'catch the conscience' of the audience and the artist."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
"This unique work does humanise the two directors, but also shows that these two fallible humans are capable of making wonderful if not perfect cinematic works."
‑ Boyd van Hoeij, european-films.net
"A hugely entertaining chess game between equally matched opponents."
‑ Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"For those who treasure not only watching the intricate challenges of filmmaking but also feeling the thrill of tomfoolery and sharing the demonic joy of psychological twists, Obstructions is enthralling."
‑ Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Part of what hooks you to this movie is how Leth outsmarts his taskmaster, and how the two men have divergent, almost incompatible aesthetic ideals."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"[Leth's] strength against adversity elevates the movie above the one-sided whipping of a genial man to a more interesting duel of filmmakers. He parries when von Trier thrusts."
‑ Robert Davis, Paste Magazine
"Somehow the humor and purpose of this project escaped me."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"By challenging Leth, pushing him out of his comfort zone, von Trier releases in his idol a creative brilliance that would have otherwise remained buried."
‑ Annlee Ellingson, Boxoffice Magazine
More reviews for The Five Obstructions on Rotten Tomatoes