Director: Von TrierReview
a documentary that follows directors lars von trier and jorgen leth in an experiment dreamt up by von trier. leth made a short film in 1967 called “the perfect human” which features a man and a woman in separate sequences doing things like shaving or eating or dancing or just standing. i’ve never seen it in its entirety, but i gather that it’s a sometimes humorous look at human nature and a slew of other related topics. von trier’s idea follows in his dogme style of creating obstacles, or obstructions, in order to either create a better film or flex one’s filmmaking muscles. so von trier makes leth remake his own film five different times with different limitations that von trier imposes on the project. in the first obstruction he instructs leth to use edits of no more than 12 frames (half a second), to make the film in cuba without building any sets, and to answer the questions that are posed in the original film. each obstruction is a response to the last film that leth creates. so, after leth remakes the film under the first set of rules von trier sees that leth worked very creatively under the conditions, but kept a critical distance from his subject. as a result von trier’s next set of obstructions is aimed at getting leth more personally involved in the material. at each turn, though, leth creates a film that is good, but not what von trier is looking for. in each instance leth is able to circumvent von trier’s objective through ingenuity and creativity. as leth puts it: “it’s like a tennis match.” von trier will serve hard down the line and leth will try is best to return the serve. it’s fun to see how von trier tries to confine leth in different ways, and how leth is ultimately able to work the limitations to his creative advantage. the first two obstructions are geared towards limiting leth’s technical options. the third gives leth free reign. the fourth requires him to remake the film as a cartoon (a medium both filmmakers despise). and the fifth obstruction removes leth from the creative process almost entirely – von trier will direct the remake using documentary footage of leth, and then crediting leth as the director of the picture.
it’s an interesting film for people who are into film and the creative process behind filmmaking, but i don’t know that there’s enough of a “human interest” type of storyline to keep others interested.