The Five Obstructions
The Five Obstructions (2003)

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… More

Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: November 7, 2003
DVD Release Date: October 5, 2004
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Critic Score: 88% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Both an intriguing intellectual exercise and an amusing look at the contrasts between the two filmmakers.

Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

It's amusing only if you agree not to think very much about it.

Full review…
John Hartl
Seattle Times

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.

Noel Murray
The Dissolve

[...]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 [...]

Full review…
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

A film like this has a limited audience, I suppose, but for that audience it offers a rare fascination.

Full review…
Frank Scheck
Hollywood Reporter

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.

Jeffrey Overstreet

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.

Full review…
Bob Longino
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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.

Wesley Morris
Boston Globe

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.

Full review…
Robert Davis
Paste Magazine

[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.

Full review…
More reviews for The Five Obstructions

Flixster Audience Score: 85% Flixster User Reviews
Drew Smith
The penultimate film screened in the Lars von Trier course I took, this is a really fascinating, direct look at the obsession with mimicry and the simulacrum… More
Neum Daddy
*strums guitar* A mole has burrowed into my lungs, you see He laughs in cough and speaks in wheeze He claws out my throat and rations my air… More
Lanning : )
I noted the time I stopped watching this: 45 minutes into the film. Holy Hannah, it goes on for another 45 minutes according to the jacket. I've spent a… More
Robert Brogan
The Five Obstructions is perfectly fine as a documentary. As with anything that has aspirations you will find those on either side that love or hate it. This is… More
Eric Broome
The premise of "The Five Obstructions" suggests a pretentious egghead jerk-off but, surprisingly, this is one of director Lars Von Trier's most… More
Sylvester Kuo
One of the most unusual films I've ever seen. Lars von Trier challenges Jørgen Leth to create Leth's short film under five obstructions. The two film… More