Aug 24, 2009
Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier is most famous for his harrowing depictions of female suffering in films like Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, and Dogville. But something had to finance those kinds of projects, so in the mid-’90s he unleashed his most accessible work: The Kingdom, a comedy/drama/horror/mystery miniseries set in the most state-of-the-art hospital in Copenhagen. The series boasts one of the greatest creations in the history of television in Stig Helmer, a comically misanthropic Swedish neurosurgeon convinced of the mighty power of his rational mind who also likes to go up on the roof and yell a lot. Helmer and the other doctors believe their science can explain just about anything, but a healthy dose of the occult threatens to throw the entire hospital into disarray. The Kingdom is many things — an engaging mystery, a workplace farce, a surprisingly effective argument about health care — but it’s the combination of those elements that makes it so praiseworthy.