|Keywords||Anatomy, Child Abuse, Communication, Death and Dying, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Empathy, Family Relationships, Hospitalization, Impaired Physician, Medical Ethics, Medical Mistakes, Medical Research, Obsession, Patient Experience, Physical Examination, Power Relations, Professionalism, Science Fiction, Spirituality, Surgery, Time|
To escape accusations of plagiarism, Swedish neurosurgeon Stig Helmer (Ernst Hugo Jaregard) has come to work at The Kingdom, a large Copenhagen hospital. He is a surgical butcher with lamentable bedside manners and utter contempt for Denmark, but he resembles his colleagues in his medical positivism and abhorrence of spiritualism. His inadequacies are easily perceived by the hospital staff and resident Dr. Hook (Soren Pilmark), but his fellow consultants celebrate his arrival and make him a member of their lodge.
The malingering spiritualist Mrs. Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes), admitted for a variety of fictitious ailments, discovers The Kingdom is haunted by a little girl murdered there a century ago by her scientist stepfather. Drusse engages the help of her son, who is an orderly, to trace the child's secret.
Tangents to the main plot involve a pathologist, who is so obsessed with obtaining research tissue that he has a cancerous liver transplanted into himself, and the psychopathic medical student son of the hospital director, whose sick sense of humor leads him to mutilate corpses in the hospital morgue. The ending is pure horror.
Made in four parts for Danish television, this surreal melodrama exposes the inner workings of a modern teaching hospital in dangerous decline. The main theme is the arrogance and self-protection of the medical profession, symbolized by the lodge, and its persistent denial of the spiritual.
Every character is flawed: the astute Dr. Hook extracts cocaine from outdated topical solutions; an otherwise likable anesthetist is drawn to Helmer and destroys her reports to protect him; the respected researcher abuses a legal loophole to get around a family's wishes; the well-intentioned, but thick director invents "Operation Morning Air," a woefully inadequate attempt to improve service through pathetic encounter groups. Like a Greek chorus, the kitchen workers, played by a man and a woman with trisomy-21, are the only people who understand the full extent of the hospital's ailing condition.
With gothic and at times even Shakespearean humor, the series is reminiscent of American television's Twin Peaks, while the lavish attention to gore evokes the inscrutable products of director David Cronenberg. Some (like this reviewer) will find the series to be a hilarious, biting satire of modern medicine; others (like her family) would say it is merely a gruesome soap made by people who do not like doctors.
|Director||Lars Von Trier|
|Leading Actors||Ernst Hugo Jarogard, Soren Pilmark, Kirsten Rolffes|
|Running Time||266 minutes|
|Video Source||Hallmark Home Entertainment|
|Miscellaneous||In Danish and Swedish, subtitled. Each episode is 60-70 min.|
|Annotated by||Duffin, Jacalyn|
|Date of Entry||08/14/98|