This news first hit last year, back when I was still at that other web site, and it was denied. I don’t know what changed in the interim, but the news out of Cannes is that now it’s true: Martin Scorsese and Lars von Trier will be teaming up on a bizarre, torture-filled film project The Five Obstructions.
The torture will be for Scorsese. The Five Obstructions was a film von Trier already made, where he gave filmmaker Jorgen Leth a series of ‘challenges’ (or obstructions). Leth would have to shoot the same film five different times, under five different sets of rules. Leth was forced to remake his own short film, The Perfect Human, and these were the obstructions (from Wikipedia)
Leth must remake the film in Cuba (but with no set) with no shot longer than 12 frames, and he must answer the questions posed in the original film; Leth successfully completes this task.
Leth must remake the film in the worst place in the world but not show that place onscreen; additionally, Leth must play the role of “the man”. The meal must be included but the woman is not to be included. Leth remakes the film in the red light district of Bombay, only partially hiding it behind a translucent screen.
Because Leth failed to complete task 2 perfectly, von Trier punishes him, telling him to either remake the film in any way he chooses, or redo obstruction 2 in Bombay again. Leth chooses the first option and remakes it in Brussels using split-screen effects.
Leth must remake the film as a cartoon. He does so with the aid of Bob Sabiston, a specialist in rotoscoping, who creates animated versions of shots from the previous films. As such the final product is technically an animation but not a cartoon. So he fails.
The fifth obstruction is that von Trier has already made the fifth version, but it must be credited as Leth’s, and Leth must read a voice-over narration ostensibly from his own perspective but in fact written by von Trier.
When this story originally ran, Scorsese was supposed to remake Taxi Driver five times. It’s unclear what the actual film will be, and apparently there will be no more information disclosed.
This should be pretty fascinating; I was a huge proponent of the project last time it was floated, and I love that Scorsese has such a playful, hands-on approach to filmmaking. You can’t imagine many other filmmakers of his stature who would go for something as weird and probably pain in the ass as this.