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These new episodes of 'The Kingdom' pick up where the original series left off. At the Kingdom hospital in Copenhagen, the ghost of little Mary, murdered many years ago by her demonic father Kruger (Udo Kier) has finally been laid to rest, thanks to the elderly psychic medium and eternal patient Mrs Drusse (Kristian Rolffes). But at the same time, the intern Judith (Birgitte Raaberg) has just given birth to another of Kruger's children (Udo Kier) a semi-human creature that grows at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, eccentric neurosurgeon Stig Helmer (Ernst Hugo Jaregard) has returned from Haiti with a voodoo potion he intends to use on Judith's fiance Krogen (Soren Pilmark), a maverick doctor and sometime drug dealer who means to expose Helmer's role in the botched operation that left a young girl brain-damaged for life. Helmer also has to deal with the demands of his equally nutty lover Rigmor (Ghita Norby), an anaesthetist who seems to have developed an obsession with badgers. Among the medical students, the dorky Mogge (Peter Mygind) takes advice from his shifty friend Christian (Ole Boison) on how to win the love of the splatter-movie-addicted Sanne (Louise Fribo), while other students risk their lives by driving ambulances blindfold through the night. Hit by one of these ambulances, Mrs Drusse returns to the hospital, where she hovers between life and death. The saintly Professor Bondo (Baard Owe) is also close to death, having had a cancerous liver implanted in his own body for research purposes. Overcome by these and other crises, hospital administrator Dr Moesgaard (Holger Juul Hansen), Christian's father, suffers a mental breakdown. And this is only the beginning...

"These new episodes of Lars von Trier's addictive horror-comedy-soap-opera make ideal holiday viewing. After the first hour or two you get accustomed to the rhythms of von Trier's elaborately plotted jokes (which often take hours to pay off) and to the cheap and nasty look. The complex video-to-film transfer creates an overall visual fuzziness, with a restricted color palette suggesting cardboard soaked in urine; handheld camerawork and jump-cuts add to the sense of a functional, low-budget, on-the-run style, a filmic equivalent to the yellowed pages and blunt prose of pulp magazines. It's this combination of documentary roughness with indifference to real-world logic (the gore effects are blatantly fake) that transforms a busy city hospital into a 'kingdom' as strange and self-contained as Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast. And the crumbling corridors shelter a similar gallery of ingrown grotesques: above all, there's Ernst Hugo Jaregard's Stig Helmer, the Swedish head surgeon with the huge mournful face like a baby hippo, as fabulously self-pitying, mean and pompous as ever. von Trier is one of those directors (like the Coen brothers) who look strained and phony whenever they try for a big 'meaningful' statement, who are happiest when embarked on this sort of mad private project, run according to arbitrary, self-devised rules. Yet as the mutant baby spawned at the end of the last series grows up into an agonised Udo Kier, von Trier also has limitless opportunities to indulge his 'serious' love of crass sentiment and weirdly sincere mysticism. Voodoo curses, trips to the afterlife, gnomic disabled dishwashers in the basement - will all of this finally turn out to mean something? It's too soon to know (the ending is another cliffhanger) but as The Kingdom lurches towards some almighty final showdown on Christmas Day, it seems quite possible that von Trier is working up to a full-scale apocalypse – or maybe the birth of a new Messiah. You have been warned."
Jake Wilson

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(Norway / Denmark / Italy / Sweden)

CAST: Ernst-Hugo Järegård, Kirsten Rolffes, Peter Mygind, Holger Juul Hansen, Søren Pilmark

DIRECTOR: Morton Arnfred, Lars von Trier

SCRIPT: Morton Arnfred, Lars von Trier


EDITOR: Pernille Bech Christensen, Molly Marlene Stensgård

MUSIC: Joachim Holbek


RUNNING TIME: 286 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Dec 26, 1998 Melbourne (other states to follow)

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