September 17, 12:30
Forum cinema, 5 Legionowa Street
tickets: 40 PLN, available at the Forum cinema’s box office, Ludwik Zamenhof Center’s box office and on bilety.bok.bialystok.pl
25 years ago the very foundations of Copenhagen’s most famous haunted hospital began to shake, as the second season of Lars von Trier’s magnum opus reached its terrifying conclusion. In a brand new limited event series, the acclaimed Danish filmmaker returns with The Kingdom Exodus, the third and final season of a cult TV phenomenon three decades in the making.
Plans to tie up the series’ myriad mysteries were underway as soon as The Kingdom II aired its final episode in November 1997, but the death of key cast members Ernst-Hugo Järegård and Morten Rotne Leffers in 1998, followed by that of Kirsten Rolffes in 2000, left the intended screenplays unworkable. It may have been a long time coming, but von Trier’s dizzyingly self-reflexive solution would prove ingenious.
Having always cited Twin Peaks as a key influence on The Kingdom’s initial two-season run, with The Kingdom Exodus von Trier has fashioned Denmark’s answer to Twin Peaks: The Return—five dazzling episodes that at once enrich and recontextualise what came before. In a meta masterstroke, everyone in the new season has seen the “stupid TV show” on DVD, with tourists visiting locations of its most iconic moments.
A sly opening sequence suggests a break with the past, as von Trier kicks off proceedings in a style indistinguishable from most contemporary prestige television. But the mischievous Dane is just calling our bluff, as he quickly restores the incomparable copper-toned aesthetic of a show that offered a seamless blend of telenovela melodrama and supernatural mystery.
As characters old and new settle into a familiar groove of petty workplace squabbles, Kafka-esque administrative wrangles, and ghost-hunting adventures, von Trier wields nostalgia like a matador, luring us with its comforts before pulling them away to confront the moral—and mortal—quandaries on which the Kingdom hospital shakily stands. Christmas is approaching, and the ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil looms.