Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): The Kingdom viewing diary begins tomorrow

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Kingdom viewing diary begins tomorrow



An introduction and directory for my viewing diary on The Kingdom (1994) and The Kingdom II (1997), a two-season Danish TV series


THE KINGDOM (season 1)

"Unheavenly Hosts" (episode 1)

"Thy Kingdom Come" (episode 2)

"A Foreign Body" (episode 3)

"The Living Dead" (episode 4)


THE KINGDOM II (season 2)

"Death on the Operation Table" (episode 5)

"Birds of Passage" (episode 6)

"Gargantua" (episode 7)

"Pandemonium" (episode 8)


Original introduction

This spring, I'm sharing a lot of single seasons, "prologue" entries, or standalone episodes from larger viewing diaries. In this case, however, I'm sharing an entire series all at once. The Kingdom ran for two seasons of just four episodes each. "Kingdom I" and "Kingdom II" aired three years apart in 1994 and 1997, right around the time Lars von Trier was achieving international renown at the forefront of the Danish "Dogme 95" movement, a quintessentially nineties cinematic rebellion emphasizing a raw video aesthetic. Breaking the Waves, a film that managed to straddle both the punk of the vanguard and the pomp of Oscar season, came out between the two seasons - perhaps enabling the creation of the second after such a delay (I've avoided learning too much about the series beforehand; as with my other viewing diaries, I'm trying to fly blind).

The Kingdom takes place in a haunted hospital staffed with a motley crew of eccentrics and misanthropes, balancing a bizarre, absurd sensibility with episodic storytelling, the latter perhaps more the contribution of von Trier's collaborators (pure speculation, as I don't know much about them except that at least one was a filmmaker too). The series is not just co-written with Tómas Gislason and Niels Vorsel but co-directed with Morten Arnfred. The mix of quirky humor, supernatural horror, soap opera melodrama, and high-tension workplace TV genre (in this case a hospital rather than a police station) obviously recalls Twin Peaks, a show von Trier has specifically cited as an influence. The Shining too also feels like a touchstone thematically, narratively, and sometimes visually (at least in terms of its opening title - the rest of the aesthetic bears more similarity to the gritty, handheld style of American cop shows like Homicide).

This entry will serve as a directory for all of the episodes, updated daily. The viewing diary is running over eight days, mostly consecutive with only Saturday off; entries are written before I've watched the next one so there are no spoilers. At the time of writing, I have seen the first season but not yet the second, which I'm planning to catch up with over the next few days. After witnessing the rather shocking season finale a few days ago, I'm certainly curious to see what's next...

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