You missed this – Subscribe & Avoid FOMO!
Palmerston North Film Society


Wed 24 Mar 2010, 5:30pm
Wed 24 Mar 2010, 8:00pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Yearly Membership Waged: $85.00
  • Yearly Membership Unwaged: $70.00
  • Triple Feature Card: $30.00
  • High School Student: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

The Five Obstructions (De Fem Benspænd)
Directed by Jørgen Leth, Lars von Trier
Denmark 2005 90mins (35mm)
March 24th

The film is a documentary, but incorporates lengthy sections of experimental films produced by the filmmakers. The premise is that Lars von Trier has created a challenge for his friend and mentor, Jørgen Leth, another filmmaker. Von Trier's favourite film is Leth's The Perfect Human (1967). Von Trier gives Leth the task of remaking it five times, each time with a different 'obstruction' (or obstacle) given by von Trier.

In the first film, von Trier sends Leth to Cuba and sets his first seemingly insurmountable rule: make a film that consists of shots that are no longer than twelve frames at a time. Miraculously, Leth uses his forced limitations to create a beautiful work, which obviously irks von Trier. Next up, von Trier challenges Leth to return to Bombay--which he calls the "most wretched place on Earth"--in order to confront some demons from his past. Once again, the clever mentor rises to the challenge. Frustrated and sensing defeat, von Trier's next challenge is deceptively simple: Leth must remake his film with no limitations whatsoever. He travels to Brussels and succeeds once again. After a foray into animation, von Trier creates the final obstruction, a film in which von Trier admits defeat and pays tribute to his mentor.

The film examined a ‘perfect’ man and a ‘perfect’ woman as if they were anthropological specimens, while a dry commentator described their mundane actions. 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.

“The heart of the movie isn’t the sudden appearance of sweetness but the creativity of both filmmakers throughout, which is rooted in a love of cinema. Von Trier’s penchant for provocation and emotional manipulation often overshadows his seemingly unlimited capacity for impishness, a quality that manages to hold my attention through all of his movies, despite an occasional desire to turn away.” Robert Davis, Paste Magazine.

Eye for Detail
During one of the conversation segments in the documentary Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth agree that Leth will receive full credit for the fifth and final Obstruction entitled The Perfect Human: Avedøre, Denmark despite not directing it, and that Trier will receive none, although he will direct it. This, apparently, is within the rules of the game played out by the two directors during the documentary, and serves as an inside joke.

Screenings are at 5.30pm and 8pm at Downtown Cinemas
Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

Restaurants to book near Palmerston North Film Society