The Kingdom (1994)

"Excellent"

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The Kingdom (1994) Review


This is what would happen if you let David Lynch loose on the set of ER with nothing but a TV camera, a gaggle of Danish actors, and a bone saw. The Kingdom, an extremely ambitious effort for both the filmmakers and the audience, is Denmark's hipper-than-thou answer to Twin Peaks.

I'm not even going to attempt to explain the plot of The Kingdom, as it could fill several pages and still not make a lick of sense. I'll leave it at this: "The Kingdom" is a giant Copenhagen hospital, and every single room in it (and most of the corridors, and the driveway, and the parking lot) contains at least one complete wacko.

The dearth of information about this "film" belies its true beginnings as a serialized TV show in Denmark. The movie version of The Kingdomis nothing more than the first 4 episodes (of a planned 13) from this television show slapped back to back, converted to film, and played in all its grainy glory on the big screen. (Note! This means it's 4 1/2 hours long. Really. In Austin, the film will be shown in 2 parts, and I've only seen part 1.) In fact, watching The Kingdomis a very TV-like experience. The only things missing are the commercials and a ringing telephone.

This is not to say that The Kingdomisn't worth watching. Rather, you have to know what you're getting into. Here's some of what you get: a child's ghost living in an elevator shaft, patients holding a seance in their room, bizarre cults of doctors akin to the Freemasons, an intern who decapitates a corpse to impress his love, a phantom ambulance...and that's just Episode 1. What you don't get is this: much background music, a discernibly strong plotline, a camera in focus, character motivations, or just about anything else you typically expect to find in the world of film. In other words, The Kingdomis all but destined to become a phenomenal cult hit.

Occasionally, The Kingdomovercomes its meandering flaws and completely shocks the audience with some truly powerful scenes. However, most of the time, the movie is just plain weird, and it defies description in any other way. If your butt can handle 5 hours in a movie theater and this sounds like your cup of tea, don't miss it. Otherwise, wait for video...and get the 3-day rental. You'll need it.

In Danish and Swedish with subtitles. The new DVD includes selected commentary from Von Trier and behind the scenes footage.

Aka Riget.


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