Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

The Five Obstructions 2003

De Fem Benspænd

Directed by Jørgen Leth, Lars von Trier

Belgium / Denmark / France / Switzerland In Danish, English, French and Spanish with English subtitles
90 minutes 35mm

Directors, Screenplay


Dan Holmberg


Camilla Skousen
Morten Højbjerg


Jørgen Leth
Lars von Trier
Jacqueline Arenal
Daniel Hernández Rodriguez


Venice, Toronto 2003; Sundance, Sydney 2004


If you’re intrigued by the games filmmakers play, you should be ready for anything after seeing the high jumps devised by self-styled bastard Lars von Trier. In 1967 the man he calls his mentor, Jørgen Leth, directed what became a famous short, The Perfect Human. The film examined a ‘perfect’ man and a ‘perfect’ woman as if they were anthropological specimens, while a dry commentator described their mundane actions. Now von Trier challenges Leth to remake his little classic five different ways, each time imposing radical limitations – shots can only last half a second, for example, or the film must be animated (‘I hate cartoons,’ says Leth. ‘So do I,’ replies von Trier). We watch the clash of wills and we see what Leth produces, goaded into experimentation by his obstructive admirer. Can he prove himself and express himself at the same time? “An engrossing wielding of art and mind games… such an entertaining art-damaged reality show that MTV is practically guaranteed to steal the idea for a new series.” — Elvis Mitchell, NY Times