Friday, April 27, 2012

Riget, Dag 1: Den hvide flok / The Kingdom, Day 1: The Unheavenly Host

Valtakunta, 1. päivä: Valkea lauma / Riket, Dag 1: Den vita flocken. DK/FR/DE/SE 1994. PC: Zentropa Entertainments, DR - Danmarks Radio, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Arte, SVT - Sveriges Television, Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, Nordisk Film- och TV-Fond, Nordic TV Co-production Fund, MEDIA II. P: Ole Reim. D: Lars von Trier, Morten Arnfred. SC: Lars von Trier, Tómas Gislason, Niels Vørsel. DP: Eric Kress - shot on 16 mm. AD: Jette Lehmann. SFX: Niels Fly, Niels Skovgaard. Cost: Bjarne Nilsson. Makeup: Kim Olsson, Lis Olsson. M: Joachim Holbek. ED: Molly Marlene Stensgaard. S: Per Streit, Hans Møller. Loc: Rigshospitalet (Østerbro, Copenhagen, Denmark). C: Ernst-Hugo Järegård (Stig Helmer), Kirsten Rolffes (Sigrid Drusse), Holger Juul Hansen (Einar Moesgaard), Søren Pilmark (Jørgen Krogshøj), Ghita Nørby (Rigmor Mortensen), Jens Okking (Bulder Harly Drusse), Annevig Schelde Ebbe (Mary Krüger), Baard Owe (Palle Bondo), Birgitte Raaberg (Judith Petersen), Peter Mygind (Morten 'Mogge' Moesgaard), Vita Jensen (dishwasher), Morten Rotne Leffers (dishwasher), Louise Fribo (Sanne), Laura Christensen (Mona Jensen), Mette Munk Plum (Mona's mother), Solbjørg Højfeldt (Camilla), Udo Kier (Age Krüger), Otto Brandenburg (Hansen). 72 min. A 35 mm print from DFI with English credit titles, original in Danish, with English subtitles. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (The Evil North), 27 April 2012.

We presented Lars von Trier's acclaimed tv series Riget and Riget 2, totalling eight episodes of 72 minutes, during two evenings, four episodes on each, in 35 mm film prints. The attendance was good, and so was the audience reaction: evidently the series is fondly remembered by its followers. Personally, I have struggled to connect with Trier - and we did show his first trilogy already in 1991 at Cinema Orion - but missed the excitement around Riget as I was abroad when it was first transmitted on Finnish tv. Now I must admit that Riget, made right after the first trilogy, must be Trier's best work so far. Riget is first-rate horror fiction, mixing social satire, psychological observation and black humour with the horror elements.

Characters and story elements introduced in the first episode include the hypochondriac Sigrid Drusse who senses spirits at the Rigshospitalet, the overbearing Swedish senior physician Dr. Stig Helmer with zero psychological skills, the junior physician Mogge who entertains a one-sided feeling of love towards a senior nurse, the quiet crying of a ghost child in the elevator shaft, a séance conducted at the hospital by Sigrid Drusse, a pathology session with autopsy off camera, a beheading of a corpse at the morgue, the "Operation Morning Star", the "Sons of the Kingdom" with its lemon cutting ritual (with Järegård's nose accidentally cut), a grave malpractice case in which Helmer inflicts irremediable damage in his brain surgery to young Mona and handles the encounter with the livid mother ("I'd rather she'd died") in a way the director of the hospital comments with the sentence "your diplomacy didn't work", and a mild earthquake causing flooding on the yard and the parking area.

Reportedly inspired by Twin Peaks but completely original.

It makes sense to screen Riget at the cinema because of the strong audience reaction and the big screen experience. The visual quality of the print is not so hot, though. It matters little that it has been battered in heavy use, but on a more serious note the post-production of the 16 mm cinematography has been designed for the small screen, and the drawbacks are amplified at the cinema. But finally Riget is a story- and character-driven movie.

No comments: