The Five Obstructions - Blog Response for Monday 12.6

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Here is the original of "The Perfect Human."


Which version of Jorgen Leth's five obstructions is your favorite and why?

Which is your least favorite and why?

Or do you think the original is the best? And why?

What do you think the point is in setting obstructions or limitations to a project like this, and do you think Jorgen Leth worked with them effectively? How and why?

What obstructions would you place on Leth for another film?

In regards to the theme of the film, what do you think the idea of a "Perfect Human" means, and do you think the thought of it is achievable in any sort of media?


I liked Obstruction #3 the best, with complete freedom Jorgen created whatever he wanted. However, Lars hated the spy like movie. A man (not Perfect Man), a woman, car, gun, and sex were the objects. But Jorgen used new questions, what does the man want. Unfortunately, Jorgen ended #3 with “Let’s start here.” I usually like cartoons but the style of cartooning was not constant. However I think that #4 told a more complete story. You really had to see all the films before you see the #4, because it took elements and stories from all the pieces. It also added new elements. The original was funny with the actor singing at the end. The typical teacher and student relationship setup, give an assignment for the student. Jorgen didn’t make a film that he knew Lars would like. Rather he made one that interested himself. I would have given Jorgen select tools to work with. Here is an actor and actress, see what kind of film you can create. To label something as perfect you’re only fooling yourself. You are showing your own insecurities. Science may strive to perfectiveness but as artists, we look for the imperfect elements and celebrate them.

My favorite of Jorgen's obstructions was his first, filmed in Cuba. I enjoyed the brightness of the piece, the color generally seemed very warm. I feel like the short edits forced Leth to pay particular attention to the importance of all of his shots as well as play with different angles. Overall I felt that his first obstruction was the most upbeat and playful. My least favorite of the obstructions was the 2nd, filmed in India. While I appreciate the thought behind the idea, i do not feel like the execution of the screen behind Leth worked as effectively as he had hoped. I think the purpose for creating obstructions for a film like this is to prove more the creative process of creating the film than to create the film itself. More of an observation of how to overcome obstacles in different situations. The reason I think it worked was because Jorgen was such a talented and inspired director. I thought Leth was very effective in all of his films. I thought that the 3rd film felt the most out of place, it felt like it was based on a different film than the rest, or a film all to itself. Nonetheless, i thought it was effective. If i were to place an obstruction on Jorgen, I would have him do a silent film, with puppets, and backwards. This is because I would like to see how Leth would take a trainwreck and make it brilliant. I don't think Leth is specifying an individual as the "perfect human", rather, i believe his "perfect human" he is portraying is sort of an achievable rhetoric. I feel like it would be achievable through other medias, however, i find it hard to believe that any other would be as effective as film was.

The obstruction that i enjoyed the most was the first obstruction. The bright and vivid imagery of cuba worked very well with the 12 frame obstruction. The freshness of the first obstruction gave it a better feel then the others when the obstructions became more of a repeating process. My least favorite obstruction was the final one. It was much more about the relations of the two directors and had little to do with the original film in a direct way. Over all it felt more like a summing up for the documentary then being an adaptation of the film. The obstructions and limitations work to protect the artistic process. By undermining the attempt to remake the film the director was forced to alter the context of the film and thusly create his own work more loosely related to the original. If i were to create obstructions i would have the director shoot his film with sony handy-cam hi8 camera, the film would have to take place underwater, the duration of the film would have to be exactly the same as the original and the voice over would have to match timing but be narrated by a different voice. I feel as though the idea of the perfect human pokes fun and the idea of perfection. What is achieved by the film is the sense that there is no such thing a perfection. This can easily be portrayed by media.

My favorite obstruction was #4, because it was the most interesting to me. The animation was very graphic, modern, and dark. I thought it was really cool looking. I thought it was funny that the director that it was very MTV-ish. At first I was offended, because it was the first one I really liked, but then I was thinking maybe he was right. I grew up with MTV, so it would make sense that they have some influence on my aesthetic preferences. I like things that are flashy and interesting, that have lots of different things to look at, and lots of movement, all of which are very MTV-ish.
I liked the last one the least. I found Lars’ personality to be rather off-putting and grating, even before the MTV comment. I didn’t understand who this guy was and why he was being such a jerk to Jorgen. He seemed like this rich producer bossing this poor director around from his cozy office. I also didn’t understand at first that the film they were copying from was a film Jorgen had made. I thought someone else had done it and they were both big fans of it and that’s why they wanted to remake it. It makes a little more sense now why they were doing the obstructions, but it still seems a little self-indulgent. Like his movie was so amazing it needs to be remade five times.
However, I do think that Jorgen did a good job with the obstructions except for blocking everyone out in Bombay. There he seemed to be a little too flexible with the obstruction. He seemed to have an easier time of it when the obstructions were more rigid, and there was no room for leeway. Like there was comfort in boundaries for Jorgen. I can understand that, I find projects are easier if the guidelines are narrow. It makes it frightfully hard to choose when there are so many options.
I guess if I were to make an obstruction it would be that it would have to be shot sequentially with no edits at all which would be pretty much the opposite of the Cuban one.
As far as the theme goes, I’m not sure if he was trying to be ironic by pointing out there is no such thing as a perfect human, or if he was actually trying to claim there was one. It would depend what is meant by perfect. Humans have faults, so therefore is a faulty human a perfect one? I don’t know what a perfect human means, so I’m not sure that could be captured by any media.

My favorite version of the obstructions was the first obstruction. I really liked how jumpy it was. It is such a unique style and it really kept my attention throughout. Leth’s interpretation of the perfect human was very interesting, I really liked how he played up the fact that he was in Cuba, i.e. making the perfect man salsa dance for the dancing scene.
I really disliked the third obstruction. It didn’t seem very cohesive to me and it didn’t seem to follow the story line at all. It didn’t really belong with the other obstructions, the focal point seemed less focused and caused the story to be blurred.
I liked the obstructions better than the original. The obstructions were much more visually entertaining and seemed more creative to me.

I think the point in setting obstructions is to push your creativity. When you have to follow a certain story line and also follow strict rules you are forced to think outside the box and make something much more unique and challenging. I think Leth worked with them extremely well. He managed to follow the limitations almost perfectly, he managed to follow them and still keep it artistic – like with the cartoon. He made it animated, but it still kept a mature tone, rather than seeming childish and poorly drawn.

Another obstruction that I might place on Leth would to make the next film without any speaking. Sound and text would be allowed, but no spoken word.

I think the “perfect human” is the human race in general. The film is praising our abilities and our superiority to other species. I think the thought of the “perfect human” could be achieved in audio as well, but it wouldn’t be as effective. The people that portrayed “the perfect” human were not perfect, so we do not consider beauty an aspect of perfection. If we only heard audio, our minds might imagine an absolutely gorgeous model, changing the entire meaning of the film. Film is the most effective media.

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This page contains a single entry by hael0002 published on November 29, 2010 4:46 PM.

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