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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Kingdom I (1994)

The Kingdom was created by Lars von Trier who co-directed this 8 -part miniseries with fellow Danish director, Morten Arnfred. Von Trier's style and influence is easy to pick out - from the grainy, sepia toned visuals to the constant tension and despair felt by all the main characters. Like a dramatic soap opera - especially in the title theme - it has constant plot turns and you can never predict how anything will go.

Set in a hospital, named The Kingdom, that was build overtop an ancient bleaching bond where fog and spirits haunted the air. You get to know a variety of characters who inhabit The Kingdom and they all have their own side-plots going on. However, the main story that we follow in this first part is spiritualist Sigrid Drusse's (Kirsten Rolffes) struggles to learn the story of Mary Jensen (Annevig Schelde Ebbe), a little girl who was murdered in The Kingdom and now her spirit haunts the hospital until she can find peace. Although it is Mrs. Drusse attempts to bring peace to Mary that is the main struggle, acclaimed Danish actor Ernst-Hugo Jaregard's performance as conflicted and devilishly deceptive neurosurgeon, Stig Helmer, steals every episode. His desperate and corrupted attempts to hide his past mistakes add a real evil feeling to the already supernaturally eery setting.

The way this half of The Kingdom ends is abrupt, but not in the annoying way that a lot of shows/miniseries' tend to end their seasons. Every episode runs by a well-paced and plotted narrative until the last 10-20 minutes where everything begins to come to a head and reveal its inner destructiveness - similar to von Trier's films. And there is no difference with the last episode of this first part: right when you think everything is going to conclude fine and in a satisfactory way, the evil that von Trier talks so much about in his end credit monologues finally begins to really show itself and we are left wondering what in the hell the next part of this fascinating vision will have in store. 

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