The Kingdom (miniseries)

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The Kingdom
Mystery fiction
Created byLars von Trier
Country of originDenmark
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes8
Running time62-73 minutes
Original networkDR
Original release1994 (1994) –
1997 (1997)
Related showsKingdom Hospital

The Kingdom (Danish title: Riget) is an eight-episode Danish television series, created by Lars von Trier in 1994, and co-directed by Lars von Trier and Morten Arnfred. Set in the neurosurgical ward of Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet nicknamed "Riget" (lit.'the realm' or 'the kingdom'), the show follows a number of characters, both staff and patients, as they encounter bizarre phenomena, including supernatural. The show is notable for its wry humor, its muted sepia colour scheme, and the appearance of a chorus of dishwashers with Down syndrome who discuss in intimate detail the strange occurrences in the hospital.

In December 2020, DR announced the third and final season of Riget would begin filming in 2021 under the title Riget Exodus.[1] The season will consist of five episodes directed by von Trier. It will be written by von Trier with Niels Vørsel.[2] As of August 2021, original cast members Ghita Nørby, Søren Pilmark, Peter Mygind, Birgitte Raaberg, Laura Christensen and Udo Kier return to the series and are joined by Bodil Jørgensen, Nicolas Bro, Lars Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Mikael Persbrandt, Tuva Novotny, Ida Engvoll, Asta August, David Dencik and Alexander Skarsgard.[3][4][5][6][7]

Despite being a mini-series, The Kingdom appears as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Von Trier has credited Twin Peaks and the 1965 French miniseries Belphegor as inspirations.[8]


Each episode of Riget and Riget II begins with the same prologue, detailing how the hospital, Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, was built on the site of the "bleaching ponds", which recur in the name of the street of the hospital's official address, Blegdamsvej, although the exact significance of the reference is never explicitly discussed in the series.

The show begins with the admission of a spiritualist patient, Sigrid Drusse, who hears the sound of a girl crying in the elevator shaft. Upon investigation, Drusse discovers that the girl had died decades earlier, having been killed by her father to hide her illegitimacy. In order to put the spirit to rest, Drusse searches for the girl's body and ultimately finds it preserved in a specimen jar in the office of the hospital's professor of pathology, Professor Bondo (Baard Owe).

Meanwhile, neurosurgeon Stig Helmer, a recent appointee from Sweden to the neurosurgery department, tries to cover up his responsibility for a botched operation which left a young girl in a persistent vegetative state.

Pathologist Dr. Bondo attempts to convince the family of a man dying from liver cancer to donate his liver to the hospital for Bondo's research. (In fact, Bondo wants it as a trophy, as it is the second largest hepatosarcoma ever recorded.) When his request is denied, Bondo has the cancerous liver transplanted into his own body (as the patient signed an organ donor form), so that the cancer will become his personal property and can be kept within the hospital.

Amongst other plotlines, a young medical student becomes attracted to the nurse in charge of the sleep research laboratory, a ghostly ambulance appears and disappears every night, a junior doctor runs a black market in medical supplies, and a neurosurgeon discovers that she was impregnated by a ghost and that the baby in her womb is developing abnormally rapidly. In every episode, two dishwashers (each with Down syndrome) in the cellar discuss the strange happenings at Riget, and Stig Helmer screams his famous catchphrase: Danskjävlar (subtitled as "Danish scum", but literally "Danish devils").




  • Day 1: "Den hvide flok" / "The Unheavenly Host"
  • Day 2: "Alliancen kalder" / "Thy Kingdom Come"
  • Day 3: "Et fremmed legeme" / "A Foreign Body"
  • Day 4: "De levende døde" / "The Living Dead"

Riget II[edit]

  • Day 5: "Mors in Tabula" / "Death on the Operation Table"
  • Day 6: "Trækfuglene" / "Birds of Passage"
  • Day 7: "Gargantua"
  • Day 8: "Pandæmonium"


Home media[edit]

The film is currently available on DVD in Australia and New Zealand on Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label, in the UK from Second Sight, and in the United States from Koch-Lorber Films[9]


Critical reception[edit]

Film critic Leonard Maltin, who reviewed the two-part theatrical version, awarded it three and a half out of a possible four stars, calling it "a must-see for those who think they've seen everything".[10] In the best-selling book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, the film is called "a medical horror epic", with its supernatural elements described as being both eerie and magical.[11]



American horror writer Stephen King developed a 13-episode mini-series based on Riget, under the title Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital, which was broadcast in 2004. The plot retained many of the elements of Riget, transferring the location of the hospital to Lewiston, Maine and placing it on the site of a mill built before the Civil War. Many of the characters derived their names from the Danish original (e.g., Sigrid Drusse became Sally Druse and Stig Helmer became Dr. Stegman). A significant difference in the American series was the introduction of a talking giant anteater character in the role of spirit guide/death/Anubis/Antubis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Møller Hansen, Lars (17 December 2020). "'Riget' vender tilbage". DR. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  2. ^ Pham, Annika (17 December 2020). "Lars von Trier prepares The Kingdom Exodus for Viaplay/DR". Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  3. ^ Stiesen, Henriette (17 May 2021). "Von Triers kultserie 'Riget' vender tilbage: Nu løftes sløret for stjernespækket rolleliste". DR. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  4. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (2 June 2021). "Lars Von Trier's 'The Kingdom' Adds Danish Stars Lars Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas to Cast". Variety. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  5. ^ Bjerre, Britta (12 July 2021). "Birgitte Raaberg: Jeg tror aldrig, jeg bliver træt af det". Femina. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  6. ^ Feder, Michael (11 August 2021). "Mona og Lillebror er tilbage i Lars von Triers RIGET EXODUS" (PDF). Zentropa. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  7. ^ Roxburgh, Scott (9 September 2021). "Alexander Skarsgard to Guest-Star in Lars Von Trier's 'The Kingdom Exodus'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  8. ^ Mars-Jones, Adam (28 December 1995). "All stitched up – well, nearly". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Classic Films on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand". Second Site Films. UK.
  10. ^ Leonard Maltin (3 September 2013). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 760. ISBN 978-1-101-60955-2.
  11. ^ Stephen Jay Schneider (2005). 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 6th edition. ISBN 978-1-4380-6814-5.
  12. ^ a b Piil, M. (2008). Gyldendals danske filmguide (in Danish). Gyldendal. p. 469. ISBN 978-87-02-06669-2. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  13. ^ "History – 30th festival". Retrieved 23 March 2018.

External links[edit]