Riget (The Kingdom) • Part 1

If you think Twin Peaks: The Return is the greatest 18 hours of television ever made, or something close to it, then today’s your lucky day- Lars Von Trier’s Riget (The Kingdom in English) is kind of sort of the same thing, but not. A Danish mini-series split into two 4-hour seasons, it only qualifies as television because that’s where it first appeared- but like Twin Peaks, it is a singular creative work and vision that ignores any commercial interests and just sucks you into its universe.

“Like E.R. on Acid” is some forgotten critic’s blurb, and for once, the hyperbole is pretty accurate- I’m not sure how else one would describe this insane horror-comedy-art piece that takes place in a (haunted?) hospital. Like all of Von Trier’s work, it’s insane and brilliant and impossible to really pin down. The grainy, noisy, monochromatic video aesthetic doesn’t strictly subscribe to the infamous Dogme 95 manifesto Von Trier would soon unleash, but it certainly shares a lot of its feel. Like Twin Peaks (a show that Von Trier is clearly trying to one-up here) there is a heavy dose of the supernatural sprinkled with odd humor throughout, and if Von Trier weren’t so damn talented, it probably would have flopped as a sad, blatant Twin Peaks ripoff- which it isn’t.

Von Trier follows Lynch’s playbook closely, however, providing us with a quirky and memorable cast that grounds this insane plot with humor. From the arrogant Swede, Helmer, who pretty much hates all Danes, to our lovable pair of dishwashers with down syndrome- who never leave the basement and function as a greek chorus to the events above their heads- the ensemble cast makes this crazy a trip a hoot, which isn’t something one usually says about a Von Trier film. Binge at your own risk.

5 thoughts on “Riget (The Kingdom) • Part 1

  1. Quite amazing series, thanks! If you like, I have two more suggestions for you. Movies which to me have proved impossible to find anywhere: The 1984 movie “Cal” (feat. Helen Mirren), and the 1982 movie “Brimstone & Treacle” (I own the soundtrack vinyl since 1982, but I never managed to find this film anywhere, not in a cinema, not on the internet). Thanks again for your very wonderful club!


    1. Very surprised to hear that B&T is so rare- it was a fairly big hit! But probably, that soundtrack is the problem, as music rights are always what trips copyright holders up. We will find it!

      Cal, unfortunately (or fortunately) is available via Apple TV and Fandango for rent and purchase, so we must take a pass on that for now, or until such time when the Copyright Gods pull it from circulation!


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