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The Five Obstructions(De fem benspænd)

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Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium · 2003
1h 30m
Director Jørgen Leth
Starring Claus Nissen, Lars von Trier, Majken Algren Nielsen, Jacqueline Arenal
Genre Documentary

In 1967, experimental filmmaker Jorgen Leth created a striking short film, "The Perfect Human". Years later, Danish director Lars von Trier made a deal with Leth to remake the film five times, each under a different set of circumstances and with von Trier's strictly prescribed rules. As Leth completes each challenge, von Trier creates ever more elaborate rules for the contest.

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Film Threat by

As Leth overcomes each obstacle set before him, the film becomes a work of extraordinary artistry, intellectual exhilaration, emotional uplift, and outright affection.


The New York Times by Dana Stevens

Watching The Five Obstructions is at once like witnessing two chess masters playing dominoes and like spying on a series of therapy sessions. Mr. von Trier clearly sees himself as a maniacal psychoanalyst.


Variety by David Stratton

Though billed as a documentary, The Five Obstructions doesn't easily fall into any category. Perhaps it's best described as a game, in which a pair of Danish film directors from different generations spar with one another in a highly civilized, and surprisingly entertaining, fashion.


Village Voice by J. Hoberman

An unclassifiable film-school exercise--one part documentary, one part psychodrama, and one part mock manifesto--The Five Obstructions mainly serves to illuminate the game-like nature of Lars von Trier's aesthetic project.


TV Guide Magazine by Ken Fox

Even those who dismiss Von Trier as a talented sadist might reconsider after seeing this revealing and ultimately poignant documentary -- and the funny thing is, on the surface it's not even about him.


The A.V. Club by Noel Murray

The film is also valuable for raising awareness about Leth, whose work hasn't been as widely recognized as that of his European contemporaries, but who now makes an impressive case for his skills, five times over.


Time by Richard Corliss

The next time you hear a director complain about the studio or his stars or the weather or whatever, think of what Jorgen Leth achieved with Lars von Trier as his boss -- when five obstructions became five splendid opportunities.

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