Lars von Trier will return to TV for a third series of The Kingdom

Through the ’90s, the Danish great Lars von Trier broke up his steady output of controversy-stirring, festival-beloved feature films with the occasional sojourn to the small screen. Between 1994 and 1997 there were two installments of his televised miniseries The Kingdom, an odd career detour long regarded as a deep cut for auteur completists, and possibly due for reassessment in light of today’s news that von Trier will resume the long-dormant project.

Today Variety has announced that von Trier has written scripts with his regular collaborator Niels Vørsel for a third series, a prospect planned near the release of the first two a couple decades ago, but long since abandoned. He’s picking it back up for five episodes, one more than the previous allotment of four in both the first and second series, with an expectation to premiere in 2022.

The series tracked the goings-on at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet, known in English as the Kingdom Hospital, where the expected morbidity and visceral horror of work in a neurosurgery ward can often take on a paranormal tinge. Boasting a sickly sepia color palette and a Greek chorus of dishwashers with Down syndrome, it triangulates the halfway point between Grey’s Anatomy and a Nine Inch Nails music video.

Both the first and second series were edited into respective five-hour films, the format in which they played British and American cinemas; even with an extended run time due to that extra episode, it stands to reason that the new batch will eventually take that shape as well outside of Denmark, where it will play on the major network DR. When the new series runs, it will do so under the title of Kingdom Exodus, a distinction sure to reignite the “is it TV or a movie?” debate currently raging over Twin Peaks: The Return.

In classically Von Trier-ian fashion, the larger-than-life figure has also included an official statement that sounds something like a grim incantation. We’ve reproduced it in full below:

“Borders come in many forms; they may be lines drawn with rulers on white paper (often invisible to whoever chances to visit the actual geographical locations). The lines of the borders may be illustrative, if not to say quite fictitious and downright mean; they may be drawn in a soft, red color, practically invisible, and perhaps even as a dotted line, almost as if indicating an apology or even – shame. Nevertheless, the lines hang there in inconceivable numbers, and together they constitute those ‘territories’ that the inhabitants are strong enough to defend. Entering and leaving often entail violence, for, of course, any visitor is expected to return after ending his or her business.

“On Earth, the Machine that makes everything go round (all life, that is) is dependent on the conflicts which the lines provoke, as if by design.

“Whether Exodus actually means ‘entering’ or ‘leaving’ depends on the angle from which the border is observed, but the word simply describes a large number of individuals crossing a pencil-drawn line together.

“Why?….. There is an imbalance between good and evil! The limit has been reached, at least at the Kingdom…. But I cannot testify that it will be easy and bloodless to pick the seven astral locks of the world simultaneously with doctor’s blood.”

That’s just great – now we have to spend 2021 wondering what it means to pick the seven astral locks of the world simultaneously with doctor’s blood.

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