The Five Obstructions

The Five Obstructions. A documentary in which Lars von Trier puts his hero/mentor Jørgen Leth to the test. Leth has to recreate his own surrealist film, The Perfect Human, five times with five different sets of constraints, dreamed up off-the-cuff by Von Trier, who’s really just trying to get Leth to make something that sucks. Interesting to see the back-and-forth here. Rumor has it that Von Trier and Scorsese are going to do a similar project. My Lars Von Trier rankings:

  1. Melancholia
  2. Dancer in the Dark
  3. The Five Obstructions
  4. Antichrist


Melancholia. I really wish I’d seen this on the big screen. Depression, death and the end of life on Earth! Some parallel construction here with Antichrist: the super-slow-motion theatrical overture and introduction of themes, and then a brief journey to an isolated setting where the rest of the film takes place. It’s like Trier is controlling the variables of society, technology, etc. so he can run this storytelling experiment on three subjects. Speaking of, great cast. Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland are all excellent. Side characters are good for color and occasional comic relief (see: plate-breaking scene). The recurring use of the Tristan & Isolde prelude is a smart choice. And it’s gorgeous. I do wonder how this movie would feel different if the setting were not so ridiculously wealthy and comfortable.

I’ll call this my favorite Lars von Trier film, though it’s only the third. Dancer in the Dark would be probably be second, followed by Antichrist. I’ve heard good things about Dogville. The Boss of It All and The Five Obstructions look interesting.


Antichrist. This and The Tree of Life in one weekend? I could use a good slapstick comedy now. It wasn’t as dark or graphic as I expected, but Jeeeeeeesus. Not for the timid. This is a movie that I’ll enjoy a lot more after reading some good criticism. Plenty of (not-so-subtle) archetypal/mythological/symbolic/etc./etc. fodder here.

Incidentally, this one was dedicated to Tarkovsky. One obvious reference to Solaris:

If I didn’t dedicate the film to Tarkovsky, then everyone would say I was stealing from him. If you are stealing, then dedicate.