Thursday 23 June 2011

TV DVD: The Kingdom I & II

This cult 90’s haunted hospital tv series from Denmark is the brainchild of controversial producer / director Lars Von Trier, the man behind movies such as Dogville and Antichrist.

Strange things are afoot as the staff and patients go about their business. The sound of a miniature bell ringing signals the arrival of the ghost of a little girl who wanders the passages, unable to rest in peace.

Mrs.Drusse, a patient, can communicate with the dead and she continuously has her son, a hospital porter, ferry her all around in search of the spirit so that she can help it pass over.

This fascinating show has a lot more to it than the ghost story. We also have brain surgeon Helmer who is spiteful of the fact that he has left his beloved Sweden (under a cloud) and has to take a position in a Danish hospital. Dr. Hook, who does not like the arrogant and abrupt surgeon, begins a relationship with a fellow doctor who is carrying another man’s child. A medical student who thinks removing a head from a corpse is a great prank and the hapless boss who creates fantastic comedy scenes worthy of shows such as The Office.

Von Trier himself appears at the end credits of each episode with a brief explanation of events and some accompanying philosophical observations. This (surprisingly) works very well, the man obviously has great pride and enthusiasm for his work and it’s infectious.

Visually this isn’t appealing, it is grainy and almost colourless and the acting can be cheesy in a Europop kind of way but if you can see past these shortcomings this is captivating stuff. The many plotlines combine to create great drama in which the ghost story often takes a peripheral role.

The dvd box set contains both series in full and is loaded with interesting extra features. A planned third series was scrapped following the deaths of two of the leading actors but the show did get a Hollywood revamp in 2004 with Stephen King involved in proceedings, it was re-titled Kingdom Hospital.

Step out of your comfort zone and give it a try.

The Kingdom I & II dvd box set is available in the UK from July 4th 2011.

Ric’s Rating: 74%


  1. I've heard about this one! I think it would be too scary for little old me !

  2. It is creepy at times Dez and a bit unsettling too but there are also moments of comedy genius.

  3. although I adore DOGVILLE, I vowed never to watch another Von Trier's film after he deliberately killed a donkey at the shooting of MANDERLAY :(

  4. Never heard of it. Wonder if it's on NetFlix. It's not dubbed, is it? I prefer subtitles so I can hear the actor's voices and inflections.

  5. I read about that Dez, apparently the animal was very old but I agree there is no justification for it. John C Reilly walked off set and didn't return.
    I agree 100% Alex so thankfully this isn't dubbed.

  6. Hi, Rick, it's good to be back on the blog, great review of what looks a very interesting prospect. I look forward to cuddling up to my new husband Gavin and watching this! We've been on honeymoon so I'm off to catch up with all the reviews I've missed! Cheers!

  7. Welcome back Zobie, I hope you had a good time.

  8. I remember attempting to watch the American version, which was probably nothing close to the original.

  9. I'm curious about the American version, maybe try it if I can get it cheap on dvd.

  10. No, please don't. The American version of Kingdom Hospital was terrible with a capital "t." There are some tv remakes that Americans do well but that was not one of them. Watch The Wire instead, which was an original.

  11. Thanks for the heads up Mariah.


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