The Kingdom

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama, Horror

Made for Danish television, THE KINGDOM is four episodes of an entertainingly cracked medical soap opera-cum-ghost story, strung together and released in the US as a theatrical film. The closest thing to it in recent memory is the David Lynch-produced television series "Twin Peaks," but THE KINGDOM works as a theatrical release despite the segment breaks,...read more

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Made for Danish television, THE KINGDOM is four episodes of an entertainingly cracked medical soap opera-cum-ghost story, strung together and released in the US as a theatrical film. The closest thing to it in recent memory is the David Lynch-produced television series "Twin Peaks," but THE KINGDOM works as a theatrical release despite the segment breaks, episodic story development and wildly unresolved cliff-hanger ending.

The Kingdom is a huge, crumbling hospital, built on sinister marshland and home to a diverse and eccentric crew of doctors and patients. It's also the backdrop for an immensely complex storyline involving, among other things, ghostly little girls, doomed romance, haunted ambulances, exorcism, medical malpractice, Down-syndrome seers, demon dogs, severed heads in lockers and unearthly pregnancy.

Prior to THE KINGDOM, director Lars Von Trier (ZENTROPA) distinguished himself primarily for his flamboyant visual style and singular humorlessness. The great and pleasant surprise of THE KINGDOM is how blackly funny it is, at the same time Von Trier manages to work up some real scares: A little girl ghost's first appearance, crouched in a high corner of the elevator shaft and ringing a tiny bell is chilling, as is the scene in which a medium questions a newly dead friend by having her make the buzzing fluorescent lights dim--once for yes, twice for no. The 271-minute running time, so daunting when spelled out--four-and-a-half hours!--seems like nothing in the unfolding.

One thing you have to say for this supernatural hospital drama: It's unique. Nearly five hours long, this Danish hybrid of ER and Twin Peaks rewards patience -- as written and directed by the aggressively eccentric Lars Von Trier (ZENTROPA), THE KINGDOM is absorbing enough to make you forget both subtitles and running time. Ghostly little girls, doomed romance, haunted ambulances, exorcism, medical malpractice, mongoloid seers, demon dogs, heads in lockers, unearthly pregnancy and Udo Kier: Who could ask for anything more?

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Made for Danish television, THE KINGDOM is four episodes of an entertainingly cracked medical soap opera-cum-ghost story, strung together and released in the US as a theatrical film. The closest thing to it in recent memory is the David Lynch-produced tele… (more)

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