Hidden Flick: Trapped In Space, Pt. 1

Riget, of course, is Danish for Kingdom. And, yes, the eight-part series was later made into an American version, titled Kingdom Hospital, developed by Stephen King, and based in (wait for it) Lewiston, Maine. But we are not concerned with that thirteen-part saga. We are more interested in the strange occurrences and people, always the weird people, wandering the halls and basement of that very odd hospital in Copenhagen. Sure, things get bizarre, but Part I is a slow-paced four hours, patiently rolled out with carefully wacked-out precision by von Trier and Arnfred. Space is indeed the place here, and the hospital isn’t quite what it appears to be on the surface, or what it should be in all actuality. In the end, the neurosurgeon angle of the series is paramount, and the viewer feels more like von Trier, at this early point in his long and strange trip of a career, has begun to probe the innards of our psyches, instead of the brains of those on screen, twisting and perverting our view of what is right and wrong, what we see and don’t see, and what can be and can’t be. Pretty much anything is possible here, and that is eerie, too.

Granted, I’ve never been to that part of Europe. I know fuck all about the medical profession there, or in this godforsaken country. About all I know is you go in, and you either come out or you die. If you come out, they send you a bill for $33,728 for things that cost $45 at Walgreens. But a hospital, like the one fictionalized in Riget, may be rampant in those European parts, so this may have been your average evening soap opera in that country. You know…ghosts are here, there, everynowhere all at the same time, cats with Down Syndrome are washing dishes in the basement, and quoting Buddha, Socrates, or Holger von Dylan, a nurse straddles a Sleep Lab dude, after said dude presents her with a corpse’s decapitated head as a, you know, European mating ritual, committees are run by old white guys frowning upon anything but the normal routine; meanwhile, they don’t allow anyone to touch their hair (I have no idea, either), and go to silly lodge meetings where dorky hand gestures are either a signal to steal second base, or someone is getting a hand job in the parking lot after they vote to see who gets the latest liver transplant, young girls from some other bygone century are seen and unseen, old ladies from this century, appear as if they are from some far off place, and some mental case watches deranged undead mutants eating his living flesh, while the doctor, with perfect bedside manner, casually suggests, “Just imagine something pleasant.”

And so he does—the universe inside and out…

Randy Ray

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