The Five Obstructions review

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Now here's a compelling collaboration: merry Danish prankster Lars Von Trier (Dancer In The Dark, Dogville) approached one of his filmmaking heroes, fellow countryman and documentarian Jørgen Leth, and asked him to remake hisown short doc from 1967, The Perfect Human.

"What's so strange about that?" you may ask. Well, while filming him, Von Trier asked Leth to rework his movie five times according to a number of arbitrary rules - the obstructions of the title. So not only do we get him reshooting the original in Cuba, Bombay and Brussels, but he's also obliged to turn it into a cartoon and, in one version, no single edit can last more than 12 frames.

It may sound like just another of Von Trier's publicity stunts, akin to Dogme 95, but The Five Obstructions teaches how restrictions can unlock creativity, Leth turning in a series of works of resourcefulness, ingenuity and flair. It also reveals the amusingly sadistic impulses that propel Von Trier's own methods and practices, the rogue protegé setting out to try and undermine his mentor's genial professionalism.


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