The 90s TV series let us into the dark, surreal and downright odd world of Lars von Trier
Before he was depicting the apocalypse in Melancholia, performing clitorectomies in Antichrist or trumpeting his Nazi credentials to reporters in Cannes this year, Lars von Trier was responsible for the most eccentric, turbulent 1990s TV series this side of Twin Peaks. Copenhagen's Kingdom hospital, explains an introductory voiceover, is built on ancient marshland "where the bleaching ponds once lay". It is a place of flickering lights, morgues and boiler rooms. Upstairs, fatcat consultants conduct masonic rituals. Down in the basement, a pair of dishwashers with Down's syndrome provide a Greek chorus.
Heaven help any patient admitted to the Kingdom. The hospital is haunted by the ghost of a murdered girl whose weeping can be heard in the lift shaft. But it's also a rats' nest of incompetence and malpractice, as a baleful neurosurgeon brushes off a botched operation that has put one patient into a vegetative state. "I've opened a few skulls in my time," he barks at the girl's mother. "That snot-nosed kid was not the first."
The Kingdom, re-released as a box set this week, is a malarial nightmare in the guise of a medical drama, part B-movie horror, part art film, part cheesy soap. I'm not sure it adds up, or even knows where it's going. But who cares? The journey is a glorious bone-rattler of shocks and satire, bouncing us down all manner of teasing dead ends.
Von Trier rears up at the end of each episode like a puckish MC. Clasping his hands against a curtained backdrop, he will confess to particularly liking this episode – "I'd call it poetic and captivating" – while bemoaning the fact that his humble little drama can only go so far. "We can never approach the real life that God has created," he proclaims. "The most inventive artist is just an ant at his feet." Fair enough. Yet that devilish glint in his eye suggests Von Trier draws inspiration from an altogether different source.
baleful : nienawistny, złowrogi
bemoan : opłakiwać
botched : spartaczony
captivating : ujmujący, czarujący, zniewalający
cheesy : tandetny
clitorectomy : usuniecie łechtaczki
depict : przedstawiać
downright : całkiem, zupełnie
fatcat : gruba ryba
flicker : migotać
glint : błysk
malpractice : postępowanie niezgodne z etyką zawodową
MC : Master of Ceremony- mistrz ceremonii
morgue : kostnica
puckish : psotny, przewrotny
rear up : stawać dęba
snot-nosed : usmarkany
trumpet : obwieszczać
turbulent : burzliwy, niespokojny; buntowniczy