Has anyone seen Lars Von Trier’s Danish television miniseries, The Kingdom? It’s a deeply bizarre, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing story of the supernatural invading one of Denmark’s finest, most technologically advanced hospitals. One reviewer dubbed it “ER on acid.”
I popped the first tape into the VCR one Sunday afternoon, and didn’t even get up to pee until four hours later, after I’d absorbed the whole thing. I thought it was fantastic. It’s still incomplete, however. The Kingdom II is supposed to be coming out soon.
It’s an intricate story about the collision of rationalism and spiritualism, told with Von Trier’s typically quirky flair. The characters are unique and unforgettable, from the Swedish doctor who despises everything Danish, and who sneaks up to the roof of the hospital every night to scream out his hatred of “Danish scum,” to the sweet-natured old spiritualist who fakes a bewildering series of illnesses to stay in the hospital, to the gifted young doctor who peddles cocaine on the side.
It’s in Danish and subtitled to English, but I quickly forgot about that, in much the same way as I forgot about the subtitling in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The story’s just too good.
My favorite part? Von Trier’s little “outro” at the end of each episode where he comes out dressed like a Vegas lounge act and gives a philosophical synopsis of the story thus far. Hysterical.
Ah, The Kingdom.
The Kingdom II has been out for three years. Haven’t seen it yet, though. They’re making an adaptation of The Kingdom for American TV, too, which is bound to suck.
I love the dishwashers. They have their metaphysical fingers on the pulse of the place. Of course, it’s Ernst-Hugo Järegård that makes the series. The part where he goes up onto the roof and rages about the day that the Swiss will nuke the Dane’s is my favourite Von Treir moment ever.
It’s been out (as in, available? Here? The US?) for three years? I’ll be damned. I did a couple of quick searches online to see if I could find it, but the closest I ever got was “The Kingdom II - coming soon.” Any ideas?
Yes, I enjoyed his character most of all. Wonderfully Machiavellian, in a decidedly ham-handed, moronic way.
“Denmark, you were shat out of mud and chalk, but Sweden, you were hewn out of granite!”
The scene where he yanked the copy of the report he’d previously falsified out of the young doctor’s hand and tried to eat it wrung a startled laugh out of me, too.
Actually, I saw THE KINGDOM II in a theatre in Los Angeles about six years ago. It was almost as good as part one, but a couple of the subplots seemed dull to me – I would get bored, hoping the scene would shift back to the interesting characters.
By the way KINGDOM II is also “incomplete.” There was supposed to be a part three, but I don’t recall whether that was ever actually filmed.
You can get TK2 on DVD here. It’s a Seattle company, but the DVD is a Japanese import.
Part III was never made and probably won’t be because of a death or two among the main people.
I absolutely loved it when I caught the series a couple of years back on cable.
Wow! Thanks, guys. I will be ordering Part II for a friend of mine for Christmas. I don’t suppose it exists on VHS?
I called Scarecrow Video in Seattle earlier this month. They have The Kingdom and The Kingdom II on DVD. $30 and $50, respectively. Japanese releases.
I gave away The Kingdom
Horror Movie Fans
Stephen King is working on a project to remake TK for American television, at which point I will swallow lye.
Why? What’s wrong with von Trier’s version? I mean, it’s not old or anything.