Film studies can be described as an academic occupation dealing with several historical, critical, and theoretical approaches to films in general. It is always compared to the study of television and at times included into the study of media. The comment by Danish Director Jørgen Leth that it is “in restriction that filmmakers can often find the greatest source of inspiration” (Gibbs & Pye 2005, p24) can be discussed in various ways. That is in relation to The Five Obstructions and/or the work of Lars von Trier and/or the Dogma95 collective more generally.
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Jorgen Leth is a person who is famous worldwide as one of the founding fathers of experimental filmmaking documentary in addition to winning cultural institution in Denmark. During the 1970s, when Leth was working as a leading advisor, Von Trier who was a student at the Danish Film Institute, developed a powerful admiration for Leth. As described by Leth, he was a young boy who adored him, having viewed Leth’s The Perfect Human at least twenty times, a reality that Von Trier accepts in the film (Macnab "Lars Was Trying to Murder Me").
In relation to The Five Obstructions, Jorgen Leth states that “so we are entering a game-but not a sweet children game. It will be full of vicious turns and traps” (Kolker 2008, p44). The name of this game is known as actively controlled creativity, and Lars Trier is determined to see Jorgen Leth forgetting it. The Five Obstructions can be viewed as an experimental documentary of two directors engaged in a little game. The main work of Leth is to make The Perfect Human five more times, and every time, as agreed by both directors, to follow the given set of conditions suggested by Von Trier. Any failure to finish the work in a satisfactory manner will be followed by a punishment. The restrictions are ruthless, just the same way as the game master. According to the game master, it is important to follow the rules o the latter; meanwhile, Leth is also required to express problem-solving creatively to the maximum. At the end of the exercise, Leth manages to escape comparatively unscathed after remaking five very arduos refreshes of his earlier short film leaving behind Von Trier with frustrations because his efforts to psychologically dismantle his former mentor have not succeeded.
While examining the concluding point concerning the position of power held by Von Trier in the film, it is clearly implied that he is the solitary individual of this experiment, irrespective of the collaborative premise. In addition, the idea of accuracy, creativity, and originality is incorporated into the film’s wider explanation of how Von Trier defines authorship. This leads to certain questions being asked such as “When Vontrie, who is perceived as the student, meets with the master, who in this case is Leth, what takes place after the two have collided?” and “Who is the owner of the film, and what will be the outcome when one director enforces his inventive willpower to another agent?”
Speaking abour their artistic methods, the two directors work differently, yet in the same ways. As a filmmaker, Leth desires the artistic of the viewer and takes on a fresh, distanced location favoring to let the events open out.
While Leth’s camera takes several steps away from the subject to posit meta-commentaries on the connection between cinema and authenticity, von Trier’s artistic gut feeling personally interferes into the process and vigorously incites the subject’s spiritual space with the main paradoxical intention of creating the drama for his personal benefit and genuine talent. Although a number of his frustrations seem illogical, there is no uncertainty that the bigger debate he is involved in concerns the ability of cinema to give in moments of genuine human expression, whether psychologically or academically.
In >The Five Obstructions, one influential illustration of this process is when Leth wakes up in the Brussels hotel room, just prior to start on the filming on that particular day. The camera hangs back on him as he is sitting up on the bed edge groaning and speechless about how tricky his task may look like. As it appears, Leth is no longer the director at the back of the camera, but somehow, the individual is being observed, and this film of inspection or interference clearly makes him unsettled (Valenti et al. 2000, p62). Here, the camera shows the image of an elder director that is now suffering from an earlier melancholia that von Trier is suggesting stems from the quiet period and lack of excitement in his imaginative invention; von Trier will try to find the missing components in order to prepare and revive throughout his project. This is manifested not only in this exacting scene but also somewhere else as the camera takes Leth’s quiet frustrations and anger.
In conclusion, when one recollects the lively representation of “the perfect human” in Leth’s creative film, it is obvious that this heavy-hearted representation of Leth is certainly an effort to twist the tables upon the director and deconstruct what is meant by “the perfect director”. It is during this instant that we see Leth being under pressure or even weakened by challenges arising from von Trier. It is when something real is being recorded by the camera in expressions of Leth’s feelings and the consequential artistic power, but not the positive performative personality that he is evidently playing elsewhere within the documentary. The persistence in pushing actors further than their emotional ease zone is von Trier’s expression partiality for a form of invasive illegal confusion that gives room for real genuine creativeness. As Leth describes in the film, he finds it more important when actors “screw up” to go further than their own limits that what is created is legitimate feeling captured by camera.