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The Kingdom

"One of the main rules of my upbringing was there there is no such thing as good
or evil--they don't exist. But they do exist" (Lumholdt 54).
Lars von Trier in interview with Marie Berthelius & Roger Narbonne in 1987

Points of Reflection

Lars von Trier's The Kingdom (1994)

1. in what ways does the condition of the hospital anticipate the supernatural events contained within it?

2. is it important that the hospital is built on ponds where they used to bleach cloth?

3. are we to take the closing comments Lars Von Trier makes after each episode with a grain of salt, or do they provide important insights into character development, theme, and or narrative structure?

4. do the two unnamed characters with Down Syndrome provide comic relief, important commentary, or some other function?  Why include them at all?

5. does one dishwasher have greater access to spiritual insights than the other?

6. did Stig Helmer deliberately injure Mona Jensen during her surgery?

7. does the film/series mock or validate non-traditional forms of medicine (incl. voodoo, hypnoanaesthesia, chiropractic medicine, etc.)?

8. what posture do the secret lodge members adopt towards the occult?

9. what revelation does the ghost of Mary Jensen wish to share with Sigrid Drusse? Is she ultimately successful at sharing it, or does she fail?

10. at the opening of this first Kingdom film/series, Bulder criticizes his mom as a “nutter.”  Does the film/series conclude with this same intellectual hierarchy in place?

11. is Professor Moesgaard, the manager of the hospital’s doctors, a naïf, an idealist, or something else?

12. does this film/series take seriously the cultural tensions between Denmark and Sweden, or mock them?

13. is Stig Helmer, the brain surgeon, an unequivocally evil and selfish man? Is he sympathetic at any point?

14. why does Stig so highly value his Volvo automobile?

15. is Palle Bondo, the pathologist, just as arrogant a physician as Stig Helmer?

16. does Lars Von Trier intend his audience to seriously consider Bondo’s claim that “A corpse makes no demands. With sublime generosity a corpse delivers its body to the science that belongs to all of us”?

17. why does Bondo himself participate in an organ transplant—what is his end goal?

18. why does Judith play hard to get with Hook?

19. why do Hook and Stig Helmer develop such a deep antipathy for one another?

20. why did Mogge have the head of a corpse delivered to Judith? Does he achieve what he was after?


The Hunters in the Snow
"Invention of the Monsters" (1937)
oil on canvas
Salvador Dalí


Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu