The Kingdom


4h 39m 1994

Brief Synopsis

This four-part miniseries for Danish television is a "Twin Peaks"-like saga of strange events in a modern hospital. Copenhagen's "Kingdom Hospital" has changed considerably since its construction in 1910, but the spirit of the past is beginning to make its presence felt in the ghost of Mary Jensen--

Film Details

Also Known As
Kingdom, Part 1: The Unheavenly Host, Part 2: The Kingdom Come, Part 3: A Foreign Body, Part 4: The Living Dead, Riget
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Arte; Danish Broadcasting Corporation; Danish Film Institute (Dfi); Eastman Kodak; Mainstream Productions; Nordic Film & TV Fond; Sveriges Television (Svt); Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr); Zentropa Entertainment
Distribution Company
MAX FILMS/OCTOBER FILMS; Evergreen Entertainment; Haut Et Court; Institute Of Contemporary Arts (ICA); October Films; Shochiku Company, Ltd.; Zentropa Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
4h 39m

Synopsis

This four-part miniseries for Danish television is a "Twin Peaks"-like saga of strange events in a modern hospital. Copenhagen's "Kingdom Hospital" has changed considerably since its construction in 1910, but the spirit of the past is beginning to make its presence felt in the ghost of Mary Jensen--an illegitimate child murdered by her father, the infamous Dr. Aage Kruger.

Cast

Ernst-hugo Jaregard

Stig Helmer

Kirsten Rolffes

Mrs Drusse

Ghita Nørby

Rigmor

Soren Pilmark

Krogen--Hook

Holger Huul Hansen

Dr Moesgaard

Annevig Schelde Ebbe

Mary Jensen

Jens Okking

Bulder

Otto Brandenburg

Porter Hansen

Baard Owe

Bondo

Solbjorg Hojfeldt

Camilla

Birgitte Raabjerg

Judith

Louise Fribo

Sanne

Peter Mygind

Mogge

Ole Boisen

Christian

Vita Jensen

Dishwasher No 1

Morten Rotne Leffers

Dishwasher No 2

Michael Simpson

Man From Haiti

Bente Eskesen

Night Nurse

Nis Bank-mikkelsen

Priest

Soren Lenander

Young Man

Finn Nielsen

Madsen

Mette Munk Plum

Mona'S Mother

Solveig Sundborg

Miss Kruger

Helle Virkner

Mrs Mogensen

Else Petersen

Old Lady

Claus Strandberg

Hypnotised Patient

Tova Maes

Mrs Zakariasen

Kurt Ravn

Zakariasen'S Son

Svend Ali Haman

Haman

Morten Elsner

Mechanic

Claus Nissen

Jensen

Gunnvor Nolsoe

Char Lady

Henning Jensen

Hospital Manager

Lars Lunoe

Minister Of Health

Lea Brogger

Mary'S Mother

Laura Christensen

Mona

Udo Kier

Aage Kruger

Soren Elung Jensen

Man In Top Hat

Paul Huttel

Dr Stenbaek

Holger Perfort

Professor Ulrich

Benny Poulsen

Senior Registrar

Henrik Koefoed

Ct-Scanner Operator

Lene Vasegaard

Gynecologist

Klaus Wegener

Doctor In Casualty

Michael Moritzen

Ear Specialist

Julie Wieth

Pediatric Nurse

Annette Ketcher

Casualty Nurse

Birte Tove

Nurse No 1

Lise Schroder

Nurse No 2

Mette Marckmann

Young Nurse

Thomas Stender

Student

Soren Hauch-fausboll

Auxiliary Nurse

Soren Steen

Porter Ok

Gordon Kennedy

Assistant Animal Trainer

Dick Kaysoe

Ruth Junker

Voice Of Dishwasher No 1

Peter Gilsfort

Voice Of Dishwasher No 2

Erik Wedersoe

Voice Of Aage Kruger

Ole Emil Riisager

Narration

Crew

Vibeke Aagaard

Assistant (To Ole Reim)

Svend Abrahamsen

Executive Producer

Rene Agtved

Color Grading

Iben Haahr Andersen

Sound Recorder

Kristian Eidnes Andersen

Foley Recorder

Johan Ankerstjerne

Film Lab

Torben Baekmark

Properties

Annelise Bailey

Wardrobe Supervisor

Simon Bang

Graphic Design

Christoffer Barnekow

Screenplay

Christoffer Barnekow

Swedish Dialogue

Peter Bech-sorensen

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Philippe Bober

Associate Producer

Dr. Lennart Bohm

Medical Consultant

Katrine Bonfils

Properties

Henrik Capetillo

Electrician

Mario Delatour

Production Manager (Santa Domingo)

Jan Dirchsen

Model Camera Construction

Henrik Dithmer

Stills Photographer

Bo Ehrhardt

Post-Production Manager

Niels Fly

Special Effects

Tomas Gislason

Screenwriter

Sanne Gravfort

Makeup

Viggo Grumme

Electrician

Ian Hansen

Production Assistant

Peter Hansen

Sound Recordist

Henrik Harpelund

Steadicam Operator

Joachim Holbek

Original Music

Ingrid Hoybye

Continuity Supervisor

Jan Iversen

Properties

Johanne Jacobsen

Dialogue Coach

Jan Jarnshoj

Model Helicopter Pilot

Benny Jensen

Boom Operator

Peter Aalbaek Jensen

Executive Producer

J°rgen Johansson

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Per Jorgensen

Set Constructor

Tove Jystrup

Post-Production Assistant

Eric Kress

Director Of Photography

Kaj Larsen

Gaffer

Steen Laugesen

Floor Manager

Jette Lehmann

Art Director

Bo Lindkuist

Production Manager

Sofie Ljungblom

Editing Assistant

Mads Ljungdahl

Sound Assistant

Lulu Luckow

Wardrobe

Christian H Lund

Sound Recorder

Hanne Mathiesen

Dialogue Coach

Lise Mierca

Video Editor

Hans Moller

Recording Engineer

Julien Naudin

Foley Artist

Bjarne Nilsson

Wardrobe

Jens Nissen

Set Constructor

Ghita Norrekjaer

Accountant

Morten Nyboe

Electrician

Allan Ohlsson

Other

Emil Olgaard

Other

Kim Olsson

Special Effects Make-Up

Lis Olsson

Makeup; Special Effects Make-Up

Henrik Orslev

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Charlotte Pedersen

Assistant (To Ole Reim)

Soren Buus Pedersen

Video Effects

Ole Pederson

Other

Kenneth Petersen

Model Camera Construction

Leif Petersen

Grip

Jaime Pina

Location Manager (Santa Domingo)

Frank Poulsen

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Erling Rahbaek

Model Camera Construction

Franz Rasmussen

Conductor

Thomas Ravn

Art Director

Ole Reim

Producer

Jan Erik Sandberg

Credits

Soren Schou

Production Assistant

Andreas Schreitmuller

Commissioning Producer (Arte)

Niels Skovgaard

Special Effects

Ann Koj Slemming

Accountant

Birthe Lyngso Sorensen

Makeup

Emil Sparre-ulrich

Electrician

Molly Malene Stensgaard

Editor

Per Streit

Sound Designer

Jonathan Sydenham

English Translation

Ib Tardini

Associate Producer

Erik Thal-jantzen

Other

Jacob Thuesen

Editor

Anne-marie Vidkjaer

Floor Manager

Joachim Von Mengershausen

Commissioning Producer (Wdr)

Lars Von Trier

Screenwriter

Niels Vorsel

Screenwriter

Mette Zeruneith

Editing Assistant

Film Details

Also Known As
Kingdom, Part 1: The Unheavenly Host, Part 2: The Kingdom Come, Part 3: A Foreign Body, Part 4: The Living Dead, Riget
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Arte; Danish Broadcasting Corporation; Danish Film Institute (Dfi); Eastman Kodak; Mainstream Productions; Nordic Film & TV Fond; Sveriges Television (Svt); Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr); Zentropa Entertainment
Distribution Company
MAX FILMS/OCTOBER FILMS; Evergreen Entertainment; Haut Et Court; Institute Of Contemporary Arts (ICA); October Films; Shochiku Company, Ltd.; Zentropa Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
4h 39m

Articles

The Kingdom - Lars Von Trier's THE KINGDOM, Part 1 & 2 on DVD


From the amount of positive coverage that The Wire has gotten lately you'd think television programming until now has been a vast wasteland on par with an episode of Ow! My Balls! (That was the hit show within the Mike Judge film from 2006, Idiocracy – which, admittedly, does sum up a lot of the dreck that's out there.) But television programming has had many milestones that allowed various forms of genius and humanity to shine through. Let me praise Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek (1966) for interracial kissing and diplomatic extraterrestrial explorations, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner (1968) for its uncompromising vision of secret agent cool on an existential plane, Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) for hilarious subversive surrealism, David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990) for a disturbing and funny stream-of-consciousness soap-opera, Ricky Gervais' The Office (both versions, the original 2003 UK version and the American 2005 version) for finding humor in all the awkward moments in life and, for the focus of this review, Lars von Trier's The Kingdom (aka: "Riget") a Danish TV miniseries that had the singular distinction of being exported to U.S. theaters where it was then seen, in limited markets, by film lovers in the mood for an inventive ghost story set in a crumbling monolith of a hospital that was built atop an ancient and troubled marshland. The opening credits set the mood to let the viewer know that there will be a clash between the new world, with all its fancy new medicine and technology, and the old world, which includes the spirit-realm and the walking undead. Koch Lorber made Series One (1994) available on dvd in 2005, and finally got around to releasing Series Two (1997) this last January of 2008, so now the full run can be enjoyed (there were plans to release a third installment, but these were sidetracked by the deaths of two of the actors, other projects, difficulties with financing, and a general sense by the filmmakers that they had taken things as far as possible already).

Lars von Trier first made a big impact on the art-house film circuit with Europa (1991), but it was Breaking the Waves (1996) that really established him as a force to be reckoned with. Everything else was gravy, be it as kingpin of the Dogma 95 movement or working with Bjork and Nicole Kidman on, respectively, Dancer in the Dark (2000) or Dogville (2003). Along with a host of other crazy projects, somehow Lars von Trier found the time to work on The Kingdom. It's closest kindred spirit here in the U.S. would be David Lynch's Twin Peaks, which von Trier admits to admiring (von Trier praises Lynch for Twin Peaks, talking about how excited he was to see Lynch using his "left hand" – an allusion to how switching hands alters ones signature significantly). Both shows offered groundbreaking television that steered clear of predictable narrative structures as concocted by committee, and they both jumble together various genres with improvisational glee. They also featured human institutions and professionals (ie: the F.B.I. on one hand, the medical profession on the other) being pitted against supernatural forces. But where Twin Peaks had gloss and polish, The Kingdom comes across like a dry run for the Dogma films that followed and favored a low-tech approach that often, and purposefully, muddied its aesthetics. Von Trier describes The Kingdom as "a ghost story set at the Kingdom Hospital, spiced up a bit with a few soaplike elements. There are doctors and nurses who love each other, and a few minor disturbances on their way in... Some plaster falling off a wall. The hospital is becoming unraveled in some way or another. "

Series One has four episodes: The Unheavenly Host, Thy Kingdrom Come, A Foreign Body, and The Living Dead. We are introduced to a variety of characters, including Stig Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Järegård), a Swedish neurosurgeon who hates working in Denmark and is prone to screaming things like "Danish scum!" (To give full justice to the humor of this, you have to imagine him literally screaming from the rooftops, from a birds-eye-view, as he pounds his fists into the air – the kind of thing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert now routinely do when denouncing a nemesis.) He has two Danish colleagues that he fights with, Dr. Jorgen Hook (Søren Pilmark) and hospital administrator Einar Moesgaard (Holger Juul Hansen), and a third that he's romancing, doctor Rigmor (Ghita Norby). We are also introduced to the ghost of a little girl in an elevator shaft, a mysterious ambulance prone to midnight runs with a bloody hand visible in its window, patients being anaesthetized via hypnosis, and much more. The capper is a pregnancy that gets off-the-charts weird and will introduce us to actor Udo Kier making what, even for him, must qualify as his most bizarre entrance. (On the commentary the filmmakers can't help but joke about how "Babies like this are born regularly in Denmark.") After each episode, von Trier comes out in front of a curtained backdrop, in a jacket and bow-tie (calling to mind Edward Van Sloan's introduction to the original Frankenstein) and gives off little bon mots like: "We have composed a bouquet for you of fun, chills and thrills." (He is only seen from the waist up and confesses on the commentary that "I did it in my underpants.")

Where Series One has a bit more fun introducing us to the crazy characters and subplots of The Kingdom, Series Two picks up the pace as it tries to tie everything together with its final four episodes: Mors in Tabula, Birds of Passage, Gargantua, and Pandaemonium. Editor Molly Stensgard notes how "We edited the second half on AVID. A computer. It was very liberating – compared to keeping track of all those lengths of 16mm film (in Series One)." Von Trier, commenting on the graininess, says he "experimented a lot. I don't remember all that nonsense. But we squeezed it to the utmost. And afterwards we did all kinds of things to make it look terrible." He includes jump cuts, odd camera angles, and much more - all of this contributing to a fast-paced and liberating stew of ideas that keeps upping the ante on the creative delirium.

Commentary is available for select scenes and von Trier can be counted on to keep it interesting. In one digression he talks about Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski: "I once asked Kieslowski how you direct actors. He said 'I'll tell you. Find a comfy chair, and sit down a long way from the camera and the cast. When they look at you, just smile. Or if you want to go to extremes, just give them a little wave. If they still want you after that, they'll come all the way over. But they seldom do,' he told me. I've tried to do it a bit like that, and you can see that the actors do better without a director." On the subject of ghosts he says: "Ghosts... I believe in them. Or I hope for them, I should say. We did some research in connection with the script and talked to people who know about the occult. We merely had the problem that we'd got too close, in that there seem to be spirits around us all the time. All they want is for somebody to be aware of them. The moment you are, they queue up to talk to you." He adds, later: "It soon turned out that anyone more open-minded had lots of spiritual experiences in connection with shooting and completing the film. Some sound recordists quit the film because of the spirits present."

DVD extras for both Series One and Two include: "Behind the Scenes" footage, selected commentary by Director and Scriptwrtier Lars von Trier and Scriptwriter Niels Vorsel and Editor Molly Stengard, "Misc. TV spots directed by Lars Von Trier" (aka: "Outrageous Newspaper Commercials"), trailer, a "Lars von Trier's Kingdom" documentary, and a Kingdom spin-off music video for The Shiver – with bloopers. Overall package is in Danish with subtitles, audio in Dolby Digital, with a 4x3 aspect ratio.

For more information about The Kingdom, Part 1 & 2, visit Koch Lorber. To order The Kingdom, Part 1 & 2, go to TCM Shopping.

by Pablo Kjoseth
The Kingdom - Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom, Part 1 & 2 On Dvd

The Kingdom - Lars Von Trier's THE KINGDOM, Part 1 & 2 on DVD

From the amount of positive coverage that The Wire has gotten lately you'd think television programming until now has been a vast wasteland on par with an episode of Ow! My Balls! (That was the hit show within the Mike Judge film from 2006, Idiocracy – which, admittedly, does sum up a lot of the dreck that's out there.) But television programming has had many milestones that allowed various forms of genius and humanity to shine through. Let me praise Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek (1966) for interracial kissing and diplomatic extraterrestrial explorations, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner (1968) for its uncompromising vision of secret agent cool on an existential plane, Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) for hilarious subversive surrealism, David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990) for a disturbing and funny stream-of-consciousness soap-opera, Ricky Gervais' The Office (both versions, the original 2003 UK version and the American 2005 version) for finding humor in all the awkward moments in life and, for the focus of this review, Lars von Trier's The Kingdom (aka: "Riget") a Danish TV miniseries that had the singular distinction of being exported to U.S. theaters where it was then seen, in limited markets, by film lovers in the mood for an inventive ghost story set in a crumbling monolith of a hospital that was built atop an ancient and troubled marshland. The opening credits set the mood to let the viewer know that there will be a clash between the new world, with all its fancy new medicine and technology, and the old world, which includes the spirit-realm and the walking undead. Koch Lorber made Series One (1994) available on dvd in 2005, and finally got around to releasing Series Two (1997) this last January of 2008, so now the full run can be enjoyed (there were plans to release a third installment, but these were sidetracked by the deaths of two of the actors, other projects, difficulties with financing, and a general sense by the filmmakers that they had taken things as far as possible already). Lars von Trier first made a big impact on the art-house film circuit with Europa (1991), but it was Breaking the Waves (1996) that really established him as a force to be reckoned with. Everything else was gravy, be it as kingpin of the Dogma 95 movement or working with Bjork and Nicole Kidman on, respectively, Dancer in the Dark (2000) or Dogville (2003). Along with a host of other crazy projects, somehow Lars von Trier found the time to work on The Kingdom. It's closest kindred spirit here in the U.S. would be David Lynch's Twin Peaks, which von Trier admits to admiring (von Trier praises Lynch for Twin Peaks, talking about how excited he was to see Lynch using his "left hand" – an allusion to how switching hands alters ones signature significantly). Both shows offered groundbreaking television that steered clear of predictable narrative structures as concocted by committee, and they both jumble together various genres with improvisational glee. They also featured human institutions and professionals (ie: the F.B.I. on one hand, the medical profession on the other) being pitted against supernatural forces. But where Twin Peaks had gloss and polish, The Kingdom comes across like a dry run for the Dogma films that followed and favored a low-tech approach that often, and purposefully, muddied its aesthetics. Von Trier describes The Kingdom as "a ghost story set at the Kingdom Hospital, spiced up a bit with a few soaplike elements. There are doctors and nurses who love each other, and a few minor disturbances on their way in... Some plaster falling off a wall. The hospital is becoming unraveled in some way or another. " Series One has four episodes: The Unheavenly Host, Thy Kingdrom Come, A Foreign Body, and The Living Dead. We are introduced to a variety of characters, including Stig Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Järegård), a Swedish neurosurgeon who hates working in Denmark and is prone to screaming things like "Danish scum!" (To give full justice to the humor of this, you have to imagine him literally screaming from the rooftops, from a birds-eye-view, as he pounds his fists into the air – the kind of thing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert now routinely do when denouncing a nemesis.) He has two Danish colleagues that he fights with, Dr. Jorgen Hook (Søren Pilmark) and hospital administrator Einar Moesgaard (Holger Juul Hansen), and a third that he's romancing, doctor Rigmor (Ghita Norby). We are also introduced to the ghost of a little girl in an elevator shaft, a mysterious ambulance prone to midnight runs with a bloody hand visible in its window, patients being anaesthetized via hypnosis, and much more. The capper is a pregnancy that gets off-the-charts weird and will introduce us to actor Udo Kier making what, even for him, must qualify as his most bizarre entrance. (On the commentary the filmmakers can't help but joke about how "Babies like this are born regularly in Denmark.") After each episode, von Trier comes out in front of a curtained backdrop, in a jacket and bow-tie (calling to mind Edward Van Sloan's introduction to the original Frankenstein) and gives off little bon mots like: "We have composed a bouquet for you of fun, chills and thrills." (He is only seen from the waist up and confesses on the commentary that "I did it in my underpants.") Where Series One has a bit more fun introducing us to the crazy characters and subplots of The Kingdom, Series Two picks up the pace as it tries to tie everything together with its final four episodes: Mors in Tabula, Birds of Passage, Gargantua, and Pandaemonium. Editor Molly Stensgard notes how "We edited the second half on AVID. A computer. It was very liberating – compared to keeping track of all those lengths of 16mm film (in Series One)." Von Trier, commenting on the graininess, says he "experimented a lot. I don't remember all that nonsense. But we squeezed it to the utmost. And afterwards we did all kinds of things to make it look terrible." He includes jump cuts, odd camera angles, and much more - all of this contributing to a fast-paced and liberating stew of ideas that keeps upping the ante on the creative delirium. Commentary is available for select scenes and von Trier can be counted on to keep it interesting. In one digression he talks about Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski: "I once asked Kieslowski how you direct actors. He said 'I'll tell you. Find a comfy chair, and sit down a long way from the camera and the cast. When they look at you, just smile. Or if you want to go to extremes, just give them a little wave. If they still want you after that, they'll come all the way over. But they seldom do,' he told me. I've tried to do it a bit like that, and you can see that the actors do better without a director." On the subject of ghosts he says: "Ghosts... I believe in them. Or I hope for them, I should say. We did some research in connection with the script and talked to people who know about the occult. We merely had the problem that we'd got too close, in that there seem to be spirits around us all the time. All they want is for somebody to be aware of them. The moment you are, they queue up to talk to you." He adds, later: "It soon turned out that anyone more open-minded had lots of spiritual experiences in connection with shooting and completing the film. Some sound recordists quit the film because of the spirits present." DVD extras for both Series One and Two include: "Behind the Scenes" footage, selected commentary by Director and Scriptwrtier Lars von Trier and Scriptwriter Niels Vorsel and Editor Molly Stengard, "Misc. TV spots directed by Lars Von Trier" (aka: "Outrageous Newspaper Commercials"), trailer, a "Lars von Trier's Kingdom" documentary, and a Kingdom spin-off music video for The Shiver – with bloopers. Overall package is in Danish with subtitles, audio in Dolby Digital, with a 4x3 aspect ratio. For more information about The Kingdom, Part 1 & 2, visit Koch Lorber. To order The Kingdom, Part 1 & 2, go to TCM Shopping. by Pablo Kjoseth

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Shown at Rotterdam International Film Festival January 25 - February 5, 1995.

Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 18 - June 11, 1995.

Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival October 18-22, 1995.

Released in United States Fall November 3, 1995

Released in United States November 10, 1995 (Nuart; Los Angeles)

Released in United States on Video May 14, 1996

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at Venice Film Festival (Window on Images) September 1-12, 1994.)

Released in United States October 1994 (Shown at MIFED in Milan, Italy October 23-28, 1994.)

Released in United States October 1994 (Shown at MIPCOM in Paris, France October 10-14, 1994.)

Released in United States November 1994 (Shown at Nordic Film Days (out of competition) in Lubeck, Germany November 3-7, 1994.)

Winner of the Golden Space Needle for Best Picture at the 1995 Seattle International Film Festival.

Winner of five 1994 Bodil Awards, including best Danish film, best Danish screenplay, best actress (Kirsten Rolffes), best actor (Ernst Hugo Jaeregard), and best supporting actor (Holger Huul Hansen).

Released in United States Fall November 3, 1995

Released in United States November 10, 1995

Released in United States on Video May 14, 1996

Released in United States September 1994

Released in United States October 1994

Released in United States November 1994

Released in United States 1995

Released in United States January 1995

Released in United States October 1995

Shown at Venice Film Festival (Window on Images) September 1-12, 1994.

Shown at MIFED in Milan, Italy October 23-28, 1994.

Shown at MIPCOM in Paris, France October 10-14, 1994.

Shown at Nordic Film Days (out of competition) in Lubeck, Germany November 3-7, 1994.

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at Rotterdam International Film Festival January 25 - February 5, 1995.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 18 - June 11, 1995.)

Released in United States January 1995 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) January 6-13, 1995.)

Released in United States October 1995 (Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival October 18-22, 1995.)