For a long time I have known about this Stephen King version of Lars von Trier’s wonderful series “Riget” (a.k.a. “Kingdom”). In doubt if a remake would add anything to the original series, for a long time the idea of watching “Kingdom Hospital” remained slumbering in the back of my head. A while ago I ran into the box so cheaply that I decided that it was time to watch it after all.
“Kingdom Hospital” can be best regarded a series with references to “Riget” instead of being a remake. From the first episode it is clear that Stephen King does not follow Von Trier’s story. He added elements and left things out. Some characters return, but usually the names have been changed. Sigrid Drusse became Sally Druse; Jørgen Krogshøj, Dr. Hook; Stig Helmer, Dr. Stegman; Mona Jensen, Mona Klingerman. This immediately says something about the story-lines that found their way into King’s story. The weirdest things have been left out though!
Again the hospital is built on a place where a catastrophe took place in swampy conditions. The dead of these days still haunt the hospital, in King’s version causing earthquakes. Druse finds the little girl Mary and tries to help her in her typical spiritualistic way and her annoying personality, forcing her son to help her. King turned the story more in a fight between good and evil which brings a larger role to some elements, but also introduces new characters. Most notably “Antubis”, a boy trying to run amok and an artist patient who is chosen to save the hospital. Other notable elements are left out, such as Lillebror (the baby) and Age Krüger (perhaps he has been exchanged for the boy). Other things have been changed, such as the secret society of doctors, the sleep research facility and . Other amusing elements have been added, such as King’s own part as Johnny B. Goode.
You may get the point, “Kingdom Hospital” should be approached with no expectations of what is to come. It is an entirely new story with elements and characters known to people who know “Riget”. I think the series are more amusing when you indeed know “Riget”, especially because a few things make more sense. There is no need to know “Riget” to enjoy “Kingdom Hospital” though. The series make a slightly weird horror soap (more horror than “Riget” I might add) which has been worked more into a coherent story than “Riget”. What is too bad is that the “finale” is pretty weak and the end pretty horrible… That may be a reference to “Riget”s sudden end?
All in all amusing series which are probably even more amusing when you know the series made by Lars von Trier who produced Stephen King’s version.
I already had the “Riget” series, the first on crappy UK import DVD and the second on VHS, read my reviews by “browsing” “Riget”. Last week my eye fell on a 20 euros 2 DVD box with both series. That is even cheaper than my videotapes and I would have them on DVD and the first series with subtitles. To my major enjoyment I can also tell you that this box left all episode intro and outros and this release left 8 uncut hour+ episodes and not cut back to 50 minute episodes. This is the ultimate “Riget” box! Every episode starts with the story about the swamp and every episode ends with a little story by the director; the way it should be! So I suppose all you “Riget” fans out there might also want to lay your hands on this box, even if you already have the series like myself. Country mates best go to the Free Records Shop, since it is cheaper there than elsewhere.
E 20 for three videos isn’t too much money, right? Too bad that I had to get a horrible dvd-version of the first series in order to get the whole thing (reviewed elsewhere). Three videos exactly the way you get the thing on tv, nothing more, nothing less, PERFECT!. So this time I DID get to see the intros with the swamp, the hilarious song and intro AND Lars’ stories at the end of every episode.
The Kingdom I is still pretty much of a soap-series with some strange elements, but it builds up to an extremely crazy end. No waiting when you have everything at home, so I immediately continued with these second series (of three years later!). These are MUCH darker, crazier and absurd than series I. Again I am not going to tell you too much about this ghost-story-hospital-soap. If you like the bizare kind of tv-making and you haven’t seen The Kingdom, be sure to see it! Also the second series have a very open end, but I don’t believe Von Trier will ever make a third series. <5>
A while ago I bought Kingdom II very cheap on video (see review elsewhere) and the search started for Kingdom I on video. It WILL be repressed some time, but it is currently sold out. After several months waiting I decided not to wait for the double-video (in one box) but buy the rather expensive English dvd-version. A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT for lovers of these brilliant series by Lars von Trier! You get two dvd’s. The first has episodes 1 and 2 and the second 3 to 5. The first dvd also has some documentary which doesn’t add much. Of course the series are brilliant and there is nothing wrong with the quality, but the makers of the dvd made a few horrible mistakes! When putting dvd1 in your player you get some kind of intro, nice but not necessary. Then a menu in which you can choose to play “episode one and two”, “episode one”, “episode two”, “episode three to five” or the documentary. Of course I wasn’t planning on chosing the first option, because then I would miss the stories of the director that come after every episode. To my major disapproval the episodes start immediately. Not the intro with the chloride-swamp and the story of the building of the hospital and no silly song! At the end you jump back to the menu in the last second of the episode, so no story by Lars and even no credits! What on earth have the producers of this dvd been thinking? What is the use of being able to watch the episodes joint together? You are not able to chose subtitles or even watch without them. Why the hell did they leave out the intro and the end? WHAT A SHAME!!
To the series then. Of course this is one of the best tv-series ever. A soap-series about a hospital in the vein of ER, but with a sick twist. Strange ghost-stories, insane characters and unexpected twists. I am not going to say more, you will have to watch it and love it (but preferable another version!). <4 for the series>