Lars Von Trier to Remake THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS with Martin Scorsese

     May 13, 2011


The best part about the Cannes Film Festival for those of us sadly unable to walk to Croisette are the upcoming movie announcements that slip out from that magical land. There’s only one place where Werner Herzog could announce a Bad Lieutenant remake with Nicholas Cage and today the first of what is sure to be many odd movie announcements has crossed the pond from Cannes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lars Von Trier will be remaking his 2003 movie The Five Obstructions in which he challenged filmmaker Jorgen Leth to remake his short film five times, each with some sort of insane filmmaking restriction that could only spring from the mind of a certain torturous Danish director. However, this time it’s Martin Scorsese who will be struggling to create under Von Trier’s malicious supervision. The idea of hearing Scorsese’s machine gun delivery trying to out talk Von Trier’s laconic mischievous tone has the makings of a hilarious documentary custom-made for movie geeks. Hit the jump for further details on this deeply bizarre, but exciting project.

five-obstructions-movie-poster-01If you haven’t seen The Five Obstructions, the film has Lars Von Trier overseeing Jorden Leth remaking his award-winning short The Perfect Human (1967) five times, each with some sort of bizarre restriction that Leth had to follow, provided by Von Trier. One version could only contain cuts less than 12 frames (or half a second) long, another version had to be filmed in the middle of the red light district in Bombay, another version had to be a cartoon, etc. It was a rather fascinating and hilarious look at filmmaking that allowed Von Trier to apply his obsession with creating filmmaking rules (like the infamous Dogme 95 manifesto) in a new and creative way. There’s no way adding Scorsese to this mix this time won’t make for an even more fascinating film. Leth was an entertaining subject to be tortured last time, but Scorsese is an character who could out-eccentric Von Trier if given the chance and he’s also, you know, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. The entertainment value promised by putting these guys onscreen together is almost too good to be true.

Then there’s the question of what exactly Scorsese will be remaking. Nothing has been announced yet, so it’s all speculation at this point. In keeping with the format last Five Obstructions, Scorsese does have a couple of experimental shorts from the 60s that could be remade (1963’s What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This and 1968’s The Big Shave). However, what’s potentially more exciting is that that a mere year ago Lars Von Trier already talked to Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro about remaking Taxi Driver. That project seemed to dry up after the initial headline grabbing announcement, but perhaps it’s coming back in this form with Von Trier providing Scorsese with bizarre rules to remake scenes from Taxi Driver or any of his other classic films. Seeing Scorsese frantically trying to get Robert DeNiro to recreate the “you talking to me” scene while submerged underwater with Von Trier cackling in delight in the background would certainly rank amongst the most enjoyable movie geek moments in history.

The Five Obstructions 2.0 will be a co-production between Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions and Von Trier’s documentary company Zentropa Real. Filmming should start next year once Scorsese finishes shooting Silence with Daniel Day-Lewis. So, sadly it will probably be a while before we hear any more details about this really fucking awesome idea for a movie. But at least in the meantime we can expect to see new films from both Scorsese and Von Trier this fall. Scorsese is currently putting the finishing touches on his 3D family film Hugo Cabaret while Von Trier is preparing to open his apocalypse/wedding movie Melancholia in Cannes. Both should hit North American screens in November and then we’ll all play the long and painful waiting game for the Martin Scorsese edition of Lars Von Trier’s The Five Obstructions to hit screens.

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