STUDIO: Koch Lorber Films
MSRP: $29.95
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 291 minutes
•    “Lars von Trier’s Kingdom” documentary
•    Music Video
•    Blooper Reel
•    Selected audio commentary

The Pitch

“Lars Von Trier shows us the side of international healthcare that Michael Moore left out of Sicko.”

The Humans

Kirsten Rolffes, Ghita Norby, Soren Pilmark, Holger Juul Hanson, Ernst-Hugo Jaregard and Birgitte Raaberg

The Nutshell

Lars von Trier made a television series about a freaky hospital in Denmark. Assembling a crew under Dogma 95 standards, he shot four episodes for Danish television. Little did he know that the show would go on to become a cult sensation and find fans around the world. Hell, Stephen King even helped with the American remake Kingdom Hospital. This release spotlights the last four episodes that Lars von Trier made before growing tired of the concept and losing some of the main actors to untimely deaths.   

Dear God, this is Scandinavian
character actor #442. Can I get some proper lighting in here? I look like old

The Lowdown

The Kingdom – Series Two is an interesting beast that requires multiple viewings. Looking at the show in the longview, it’s a supernatural drama about the human condition that took place at a hospital over the course of two weeks. You get the typical haunting, possessions and strange visions. Nothing is new here, but Lars von Trier has a bizarre way of going about the story. Hell, it’s almost like he’s creating a narrative but throwing a bunch of unrelated events at us, hoping that there will be some point of intersection.

The Kingdom’s second season includes the following four episodes: Part Five – Mors In Tabula, Part Six – Birds Of A Passage, Part Seven – Gargantua, and ends with Part Eight – Pandemonium. This season opens up with Sigrid back in the Hospital after the events of the first season. She wants to try and help the spirits that she senses roaming the Hospital’s corridors. Then, there’s Stig and his Haitian zombie formula that he conspires to use on certain patients. Krogen and Judith are coping with Judith’s pregnancy. Dr. Moesgaard has lost his damn mind and then there are demon-doctor Aage Kruger’s attempts to deal with the birth of his son Little Brother.

Don’t let me die without knowing a Viking’s touch.

I have massive issues with the Dogma 95 movement. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy Lars von Trier’s work. Hell, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Dogville and Manderlay. It’s just that Dogma 95 is very alienating, as much as it’s a welcome approach to a style that lies outside of the major production realms. When you work in horror and establishing atmosphere is such a huge chunk of building tension, it doesn’t help if the muddy visuals keep new viewers from identifying what’s actually happening. This bungling of such simple things keeps the series from being truly effective, but turns it into this weird piece of abstract ugliness.

There have been comparisons between Twin Peaks and The Kingdom, but such comparisons do David Lynch a disservice. Lynch had an overall story planned and he worked with a team collaborators to bring that vision to television and eventually to the big screen. The Kingdom is very much a spur of the moment creative endeavor that shows off ideas that Lars von Trier wanted to put onscreen, but didn’t execute that well. The show is interesting if you’re tripping balls and not hoping for the narrative to be coherent. Everyone else is left scratching their head and wondering if the now abandoned third part of The Kingdom would’ve brought a proper sense of closure to the series.

If Uwe Boll can find ideas in here, then so can I.

I took a couple of days after watching this release to properly process what I’ve seen. Watching a show that ventures far outside of your comfort zone allows for easy opportunities to bash the program. I’ve gone to extremes to be as fair as I can to The Kingdom. But, it’s a work of the bizarre designed to play on an artistic reinterpretation of what it means to be a damned soul. Many other productions have brought similar concepts to the screen and worked, sadly The Kingdom is not one of these successes.

This means something. This means APPLES!

The Package

The Kingdom – Series Two comes to DVD with an adequate release. I’ve heard horror stories about having to buy piss-poor dubs with typographical errors in the subtitles. This release is a full special edition that takes a lengthy look at the Behind-the-Scenes work that went into the creation of The Kingdom. The audience also gets a music video plus a blooper reel of show outtakes. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also selective commentary on the episodes.

The A/V Quality is grainy and shows a lot of noise. A lot of that can be chalked up to the Dogma 95 aesthetic, everything else can be blamed on poor encoding. The Dolby 2.0 surround track keeps the audio action in the front speakers where there isn’t any distortion or dropout. Foreign Television shows come to Region 1 in various degrees of disarray and I’m happy to report that The Kingdom – Series 2 fared pretty well. It’s the rather bizarre story that you’ve got to get past to enjoy this DVD.

One more payment and my dream of becoming Mickey Rourke will be complete.

6.4 out of 10