The Kingdom (Directors Suite/Madman)

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In 1994 or 95 when it played in cinemas it was easy to equate Danish director Lars Von Trier’ (Dogville/ Dancer in the Dark) The Kingdom with David Lynch’ Twin Peaks. Here we have two renowned left of center film auteurs delving into a medium previously considered second rate and breaking new ground by pushing the boundaries and producing highly idiosyncratic results. In the extras here Von Trier cheerfully admits to being a fan of Twin Peaks, suggesting that Lynch made it “with his left hand,’ i.e. he could have told it more straightforwardly with the right, yet chose to muddy the waters and make things more interesting by using the left. It’s possible that Von Trier utilized a few left hands in this tale of a haunted Danish hospital and an arrogant Swedish Doctor who comes to work there. Like Lynch he slowly draws out the soap elements, seamlessly meshing them with the supernatural, horror and surreal black comedy. It’s absurdly surreal without ever necessarily being laugh out loud. We’ve got secret societies, patients wandering the wards looking for ghosts, missing severed heads, strangely accelerated pregnancies, medical malpractice, driverless ghost ambulances arriving to drop off patients, and of course the Greek Chorus of two Downs Syndrome dishwashers who comment on proceedings. Something very strange is happening at Kingdom. It’s the age-old battle between the supernatural and science, between wisdom and faith. And if a doctor with an old wooden tennis racket, a strange old lady with a croquet stick and her fat son with a table tennis bat trying to shepherd a terrified 7 year old girl who’ been dead since 1919 through a hole in the wall doesn’ get you wondering then maybe that battle’ already been fought for your heart and mind. There’ four episodes here that clock in at about an hour and ten minutes each, one of the highlights being a dapper Von Trier himself appearing at the end of each episode enticing you to watch the next. And his parting gift? “If you do decide to join us again at the Kingdom remember to take the good with the evil.”

EXTRA FEATURES:
A behind the scenes featurette, which features some great interviews with participants. A selected commentary with Von Trier, scriptwriter and editor and a bunch of ads Von Trier did for a Danish newspaper – just remember he is on record as saying “I love pornography I’m a sucker for penetration.”

-Bob Baker Fish

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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