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Holy Fuck: Martin Scorsese & Lars Von Trier Teaming To Remake 'The Five Obstructions'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 13, 2011 at 12:16PM

Daniel-Day Lewis Flick 'Silence' Confirmed To Be Scorsese's Next, Shoots In Early 2012As anyone who's seen any of his work before, Lars Von Trier is something of a trickster (there's an amazing story from the "Dogville" shoot about the director filling Paul Bettany's hotel room with wall-to-wall pornography, and then showing Nicole Kidman before she met the British actor, that pretty much crowns him as king of the pranksters), so you'll forgive us if we don't believe any little rumor that circulates about the Danish director. Particularly when it was one as seemingly outlandish as a collaboration between him and Martin Scorsese.
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Daniel-Day Lewis Flick 'Silence' Confirmed To Be Scorsese's Next, Shoots In Early 2012


As anyone who's seen any of his work before, Lars Von Trier is something of a trickster (there's an amazing story from the "Dogville" shoot about the director filling Paul Bettany's hotel room with wall-to-wall pornography, and then showing Nicole Kidman before she met the British actor, that pretty much crowns him as king of the pranksters), so you'll forgive us if we don't believe any little rumor that circulates about the Danish director. Particularly when it was one as seemingly outlandish as a collaboration between him and Martin Scorsese.

The rumor flew thick and fast in February 2010 about the possibility. Firstly, the idea that the Dogme 95 legend was considering a remake of Scorsese's classic "Taxi Driver." Then, there was the idea that Von Trier had actually challenged the legendary American director to remake the film himself, with a number of conditions, in the style of the excellent Von Trier documentary "The Five Obstructions." But finally, Zentropa, his company, denied that any of the reports were correct, and we forgot all about it, chalking it up to over-excitement in some quarters somewhere.

Except that, as it turns out, there was a grain of truth to the rumor, as the giant news has broken from Cannes, via The Hollywood Reporter, that the two great directors will indeed be teaming up for a remake of "The Five Obstructions." The 2003 original involved Von Trier challenging his mentor, filmmaker Jørgen Leth, to remake his 1967 picture "The Perfect Human," a favorite of the younger director, five times, with different conditions, or 'obstructions' each time -- in Cuba, with no shot lasting more than 12 frames, in 'the worst place in the world,' but without showing that place, in any way he chooses (as a punishment), as a cartoon and, in something of a twist, a version already made by Von Trier himself, but with narration from Leth.

At present, there's no news as to which of Scorsese's films will be subject to the Von Trier treatment: it's entirely possible that was some truth to the "Taxi Driver" rumors, although THR speculate that it may be one of Scorsese's early shorts, "The Big Shave" or "What's A Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This?" that gets picked. Either way, it's a hugely exciting prospect -- the first "Five Obstructions" is fascinating, and should be a required text in most film schools, and the idea of Von Trier teaming with a true giant of cinema, particularly one as personable as Marty.

The film is a co-production between Scorsese's Sikelia shingle and Von Trier's Zentropa. Unfortunately, it seems like it's a little way off for the moment: as we revealed back in February, Scorsese's next picture will be the long-in-the-works Jesuit priest drama "Silence," and THR confirm that that's set to shoot at the start of 2012, with Daniel Day-Lewis still attached, with "The Five Obstructions" coming some time after that wraps. So, we unfortunately won't see the Von Trier collaboration until 2013 at the very earliest. Anyone got a time machine handy?

This article is related to: Foreign Directors, The Five Obstructions (Remake), Lars von Trier


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