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The Kingdom is the most technologically advanced hospital in Denmark, a gleaming bastion of medical science. A rash of uncanny occurrences, however, begins to weaken the staff's faith in science--a phantom ambulance pulls in every night, but disappears; voices echo in the elevator shaft; and a pregnant doctor's fetus seems to be developing much faster than is natural. At the goading of a spiritualist patient, some employees work to let supernatural forces rest. Written by
James Meek <email@example.com>
Acclaimed director Lars Von Trier came to Riget (The Kingdom) after the failure of his film Europa (1991) and some trouble with his personal life, weather these contrasting elements had anything to do with the set up of the story of the Kingdom is unknown, but it might explain the playfulness of the film. This was the first time that von Trier would use the documentary-style approach he continued in his Dogme film The Idiots (1998) and with this project it worked wonders at enriching the source material with a certain satire. We except straight away that these bizarre occurrences are actually happening in the largest hospital in Denmark (The Kingdom of the title) and we have no reason to doubt it. As well as visual style, the characterisation is also good, Von Trier and fellow writers Tomas Gíslason and Niels Vørsel understand that we need to be interested in the characters of a TV show if we are to follow them for the duration of the series, and the characters in The Kingdom are no exception. We have at the focus of the action Dr Helmer played by the late Ernst-Hugo Järegård, a Swede with a troubled past who despises the hospital and it's practices, his recurring catchphrase "Bloody Danes" is a memorable addition to the proceedings. But more importantly is the character of Mrs Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes), the Ms Marple type character who's strange visions of the ghostly young Mary set the ball rolling. All of the actors are perfectly cast and have a great time mixing the surreal horror with the more comedic moments. Having seen both series of the Kingdom, I would say that series two is much better, perhaps because by this time we have a better grasp on the characters, but that by no way means that series one isn't just as good, let's not forget just how important a stepping stone it is. With this one Von Trier and co-director Morten Arnfred created a modern TV masterpiece. 10/10
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