The Kingdom I & II

Lars von Trier created The Kingdom miniseries to finance his embryonic production company, Zentropa Entertainment, but the project is no sell-out. While the Dogme 95 Manifesto (released shortly after Part 1 of The Kingdom aired) may have denied the suitability of genre pictures, The Kingdom is a horror narrative made with love. The series, which aired in two parts in 1994 and 1997, is an unapologetic ghost story that tinkers with some of the ingredients von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg listed as essential components of revolutionary filmmaking: hand-held camerawork, the use of a real location, and a reliance on (mostly) diegetic sound and (mostly) natural lighting. The Kingdom isn’t Dogme, nor does it pretend to be; von Trier uses a few filter and make-up effects, throws in a few wind and string chords, and he probably didn’t unearth a bottled girl-corpse on the premises where he shot the series. But it’s a fine precursor to von Trier’s The Idiots and Vinterberg’s The Celebration, later films more illustrative of their Spartan approach. Whether or not he had Dogme in mind when he shot The Kingdom, von Trier was already relying on character and performance to give a story its weight, and character and performance remain the backbone of the series and continue—more than a decade on—to draw us in.

Full retrospective and comments below the fold.