The Kingdom

Watch The Kingdom

  • TV-MA
  • 1994
  • 8.2  (20,217)

The Kingdom (Danish title: Riget) is an eight-episode Danish television mini-series, created by Lars von Trier in 1994, and co-directed by Lars von Trier and Morten Arnfred. It has been edited together into a five-hour movie for distribution in the United Kingdom and United States. It is currently available on DVD in the United States from Koch-Lorber Films and on Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label in Australia/NZ.

The series is set in the neurosurgical ward of Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet, the city and country's main hospital, nicknamed "Riget". "Riget" means "the realm" or "the kingdom" and leads one to think of "ddsriget", the realm of the dead. The show follows a number of characters, both staff and patients, as they encounter bizarre phenomena, both human and supernatural. The show is notable for its wry humor, its muted sepia colour scheme, a sort of "Dogme"-lite shooting style with added jump cuts, and the appearance of a chorus of dishwashers with Down Syndrome who discuss in intimate detail the strange occurrences in the hospital (without ever being involved in the story themselves).

Several episodes end with the Swedish neurosurgeon, Stig Helmer, on the hospital roof, looking longingly out over resund towards the Swedish shore line, and yelling "Danskjvlar!" ("Danish scum!"), after helplessly witnessing another (to him) example of Danish lunacy. Director Lars von Trier appears over the end credits of every show offering enigmatic observations about the plot. The comic elements and perceived "weirdness" in the series have led to comparisons with Twin Peaks.

The first quartet of episodes ended with numerous questions unanswered, and in 1997, the cast reassembled to produce another group of four episodes, Riget II (The Kingdom II). This series continued exactly from where the first finished, and kept the trademark sepia colouring and shaky camera-work of the first series. Von Trier continued to appear over the end credits.

This second series ended with even more questions unanswered than the first, and a third series was planned. However, due to the death in 1998 of Ernst-Hugo Jregrd (who played the Swedish neurosurgeon) and the subsequent deaths of Kirsten Rolffes (Mrs Drusse) and Morten Rotne Leffers who played the male dishwasher, the likelihood of a third series is now very remote. Von Trier actually wrote the third and final season, but the production was not picked up by DR. At that point, five regular cast members had died and it seemed impossible to continue the series. The abandoned scripts were sent to the producers of Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital, but it is unclear whether they used the scripts or not.

Despite being a mini-series, it appears as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

The Kingdom is a 1994 action movie. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.2.

The Kingdom
Where to Watch The Kingdom
The Kingdom is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Showtime and Apple TV. Some platforms allow you to rent The Kingdom for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • IMDB Rating
    8.2  (20,217)