Saturday 24 December 2011

The Kingdom II (Riget II) [1997]

Though made three years after the first chapter, Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom II started nearly from where the earlier season (The Kingdom) had left off. As in the first season, this too takes place in the titular Copenhagen hospital, and is a mix of horror and black comedy. However, where this deviates is in the proportion of dark humour in the aforementioned mix, and the degree of absurdism. The elderly "medium” is relentless as ever in getting to the bottom of the hospital’s supernatural contents; meanwhile the other characters have become parodies of their earlier selves – the CMO is now a mental wreck seeking psychiatric help from a nutcase, the Chief Neurosurgeon is more incorrigible than ever before especially in his quest towards averting criminal prosecution for a botched surgery, the junior doctor gets a first-hand experience in resurrection, the latter’s fiancé has given birth to a grotesquely deformed baby, and so forth. Where the first installment felt like a breath of fresh air and boasted of a superb atmosphere, this felt more like an in-your-face display of the Danish provocateur’s twisted sense of humour and playfulness. Consequently, it was difficult to take it too seriously, leave alone qualifying it as even remotely ingenious. The acting continued to be uniformly good, as was the pacing – the regularity with which new developments occur would keep one glued. Unfortunately, whereas, despite the open ending, the first season had a sense of closure and worked as a standalone story, the second season left me disappointed it finished off abruptly. Apparently von Trier had plans for a third season but couldn’t go through with it because of untimely demises of a number of key actors – but either way, that was not good news for me as a viewer.

Director: Lars von Trier
Genre: Horror/Black Comedy/TV Miniseries
Language: Danish
Country: Denmark

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