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Riget/The Kingdom: Exodus (2022)

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
Anyone else watching the new season of Trier's show as it airs?

I binged the first two seasons having only seen the first episode forever ago and it was a very TP experience: solid first season, uneven second season with big highs and big lows. It might be jumping the gun to say this now that a new season is taking shape, but I almost wish it had ended at season one's climax for how unhinged of an anticlimax it wouldn't been and how delirious the "what could possibly happen next" feeling that would have maintained forever, compared to the fact I felt season 2 deflated that high and was spinning its wheels in the wake of said climax. I'm not sure I felt the whole series was "worth it" by the end, because it felt like it refused to shape into being "about" anything, and character motivations stopped feeling comprehensible minute one of season 2. This may be a result of binging, but it felt like the humor also started at a peak and dwindled at a regular pace. At the same time, there were individual scenes I loved, actors whose performances felt perfect, and nuggets of ideas I found compelling. It left me feeling rather torn.

Now that S3 is airing (spoilers ahead!), and given the context, the comparisons to The Return are so unavoidable as to be a fool's errand to do anything else. I don't want to suggest discussion has to hinge on contrasts and comparisons, as I'm sure there will be much to dig into for its own sake, but so far we've got:

Unfortunate passing of actors and the writing techniques needed to not just work around, but incorporate real-world transience,
Recasts that aren't really recasts, but are replacement characters so obviously and directly continuing certain narratives that they may as well be,
More than 20 years of in-universe and real time having passed,
A previously-mentioned significant date finally coming back into play,
and metatextual winks and nods to the prior material's existence as prior material.

One thing it's doing that The Return definitely did not do is emulate the look and feel of the old show; I imagine the moment when the sleepwalker enters the hospital and the old warm tones and grain swept back in might be unbelievably cathartic for those who yearned for The Return to do the same. There are more "cute" self-references and direct emulation going on than I maybe would've expected from Trier, but at the same time that itself feels sort of fittingly (paradoxically) anarchic.

Again, like TR, I'm entranced by the gall. And biggest relief of all, I'm finding it way funnier than the old stuff at its worst.
 
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Tulpa

Bureau HQ
TULPA MOD
ADMIN
Apr 11, 2022
538
632
Will start this soon – after finishing The Handmaid's Tale.

Can't believe I haven't seen the original yet.
 

Stavrogyn

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
447
314
Will start this soon – after finishing The Handmaid's Tale.

Can't believe I haven't seen the original yet.
Same here. Especially since I've seen everything else made by von Trier (except for a few shorts) and I consider him one of my favorite filmmakers.
 

eraserJoe

RR Diner
Apr 12, 2022
48
92
Does anyone know how the video quality of the first two seasons are on Mubi? I own them on dvd and was wondering it it looks any better. I don't think they can look too much better considering the source limitations/how it was filmed. I would love to be wrong though!

If it's even a little uptick in quality I would gladly pay for a month of Mubi. If not, I can re-watch the dvds and get a free 7 day trial to watch Exodus. (No time to watch the whole series in 7 days).

Haven't seen it in years. I even own the original VHS set of the first season!

Lars Von Trier is one of my favorite directors.
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
Does anyone know how the video quality of the first two seasons are on Mubi? I own them on dvd and was wondering it it looks any better. I don't think they can look too much better considering the source limitations/how it was filmed. I would love to be wrong though!

If it's even a little uptick in quality I would gladly pay for a month of Mubi. If not, I can re-watch the dvds and get a free 7 day trial to watch Exodus. (No time to watch the whole series in 7 days).

The first 2 seasons on Mubi are remastered in HD with more of the original footage viewable (as in, the aspect ratio is now wider) and look much, much better than any other previous source. This restoration was handled by Trier's studio.

You can see a snippet of the restoration here:
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
No problem!

Like others here, despite Trier being maybe my 2nd favorite director (1st should be obvious), I hadn't seen it until now, and I think the quality of the torrent I downloaded forever ago put me off, so I was super pleased it was restored.

Not sure if I'll keep my Mubi subscription when all's said and done, but it won't be as easy of a decision as abandoning Showtime immediately when TR finished. I'm Dying Up Here and Ray Donovan were not lead-ins that sold me on its value, to put it mildly. :poop:

Mubi seems to have far better content. And for anyone who had put off seeing Lucky, the Harry Dean Stanton-fronted film that Lynch had a role in, Mubi's got it.
 

Dom

Great Northern Hotel
Jul 10, 2022
77
86
I haven't got a Mubi subscription, but since their stuff tends to get Blu-ray release (Suspiria, Benedetta) I'll grab the Blu-rays of all three series. I love The Kingdom 1 and 2. I'm glad this new series had happened, because the key cast deaths back in the 1990s had previously made it look unlikely.

Like Twin Peaks, I had to wait years for a decent home video release. The Kingdom got a VHS release that was missing the end credits on each part (except at the end) and years later I got the episodic DVDs. The encode for some reason put a thick line down the right hand side of the image.

The Blu-rays will be day one buys for me. I'll likely buy a couple of multi-disc Blu-ray cases too, because I always like to put the DVD versions in with remastered Blu-ray releases. With The Kingdom, that will be particularly necessary as the move to HD has involved reframing and regrading from the ground up. I've done this quite often: in the UK, 15mm width Blu-ray cases are the norm. You can comfortably get up to six discs in that case size. I'd rather fill a case with, say, three Blu-rays and three DVDs than just have the Blu-rays in there. It saves space and means I keep my DVDs on the shelves!
 

eyeboogers

RR Diner
Apr 14, 2022
45
53
In terms of the restoration, season one still looks as grainy as ever. I don't remember what they shot on, but I'd imagine Hi-8 or something similar. It is fine though, I don't think the re-framing has hurt either. it definitely ads to the mood of a supposedly modern hospital falling apart. For season 2 I guess that they upgraded to 16mm film, because it looks stunning compared to the restored season one. Too bad the writing for the entire second season was a big let down. Drugs and mental breakdowns were involved.

Season three (this will be plot spoiler free) is a partial return to form, especially if viewed solely as a black comedy. I imagine that lots of the humor and even parts of the story engine will be lost on non-scandinavians, since the series focuses on the final battle between historical arch enemies Denmark and Sweden. This is especially true for the final season. But hopefully there is enough about those things that are relatable, no matter who your own "country neighbor" is. Also more than ever "Riget Exodus" embraces its origins as the Twin Peaks spin-off Trier wanted it to be back in day.

Oh, related to that, on second thought I have to give one minor plot spoiler. I mean the below spoiler as it is, like it sounds.

The owls are not what they seem
 

Dom

Great Northern Hotel
Jul 10, 2022
77
86
In terms of the restoration, season one still looks as grainy as ever. I don't remember what they shot on, but I'd imagine Hi-8 or something similar. It is fine though, I don't think the re-framing has hurt either. it definitely ads to the mood of a supposedly modern hospital falling apart. For season 2 I guess that they upgraded to 16mm film, because it looks stunning compared to the restored season one. Too bad the writing for the entire second season was a big let down. Drugs and mental breakdowns were involved.

Season three (this will be plot spoiler free) is a partial return to form, especially if viewed solely as a black comedy. I imagine that lots of the humor and even parts of the story engine will be lost on non-scandinavians, since the series focuses on the final battle between historical arch enemies Denmark and Sweden. This is especially true for the final season. But hopefully there is enough about those things that are relatable, no matter who your own "country neighbor" is. Also more than ever "Riget Exodus" embraces its origins as the Twin Peaks spin-off Trier wanted it to be back in day.

Oh, related to that, on second thought I have to give one minor plot spoiler. I mean the below spoiler as it is, like it sounds.

The owls are not what they seem
As I recall, the original two series were shot on 35mm, telecined to video, edited on video, transferred back to film from that video, then that film transfer was transferred back to video. That's why they (deliberately) look so murky. For the restoration, they've taken the original film stock and heavily graded it to approximate the original film/video transfer look without compromising the detail. Presumably, the third series is native HD or 4K and heavily graded.
 

eyeboogers

RR Diner
Apr 14, 2022
45
53
There is no 35mm involved. I did a quick check and the old seasons are shot on super16 combined with some kind of handheld (sd?) video format.
 

Dom

Great Northern Hotel
Jul 10, 2022
77
86
There is no 35mm involved. I did a quick check and the old seasons are shot on super16 combined with some kind of handheld (sd?) video format.
Ah, right. Thanks. So, Super-16 (very common in Europe in the 1990s), which was then transferred to videotape, edited on tape, put back to film, which was exhibited in cinemas, then back to tape. The restoration will be a new HD (or 4K) datacine scan, which has then been subjected to heavy digital grading to create a similar look to the generational distress inflicted on the original. I agree some of the original material appeared to be SD video.

Something similar was done in Tom Tykwer's Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run), with video being used at certain points. The video material looks dreadful on Blu-ray. The film is currently out of print on disc and I really hope that any new release will go back to the source video material, up-res it properly and reinsert it.
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
I was hoping someone here would go in-depth with the technical specifics, you guys didn't disappoint me!

As a layman I didn't really notice S1 to be grainer than S2; they both looked pretty uniform to me. I did notice across both seasons certain moments when the grain was heavier and it seemed random instead of deliberate, although I'm not convinced I can't chalk that up to occasional buffering issues from streaming.
 
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WorldFarAway

RR Diner
Apr 12, 2022
38
90
Not quite sure what to think after the first episode. The opening with the sleepwalker wandering into the hospital after watching the series was cheeky in a very Von Trier way, while also effectively evoking the feeling of slipping back into the world as a viewer. The whole tone was surprisingly in keeping with the old show, both in terms of supernatural intrigue and dry comedy, while also retaining the same structure and visual style. In some ways I would have liked a more radical departure, but the decision to recreate the original show so closely only to populate it with shadows of old characters is an interesting one in itself.

This choice does mean that one of the main pleasures of the original seasons is diminished, however. As Axxon noted, the series never quite cohered into anything thematically (although some of the stuff with Little Brother came close) so my enjoyment mostly centred around the ensemble. I adored Helmer in the original series, especially his relationship with Moesgard, and both will definitely be missed this time around. Exodus is obviously playful in how it acknowledges the new cast, particularly in how the new Bulder recognises his status as a replacement, but I’m curious if the show is going to go beyond self-referentiality and communicate something meaningful about the passage of time in the manner of The Return. Looking forward to finding out!
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
The whole tone was surprisingly in keeping with the old show, both in terms of supernatural intrigue and dry comedy, while also retaining the same structure and visual style. In some ways I would have liked a more radical departure, but the decision to recreate the original show so closely only to populate it with shadows of old characters is an interesting one in itself.
Given that each season was 4 episodes but the new one is 5, I'm wondering if this first episode can be considered to have been necessitated from the intervening factors of actor death & time, and that here on out the series will be following the original plans in a surprisingly strict way. I'm also not sure how I feel about how dedicated it is to keeping in spirit so much with the prior seasons, but I definitely found comedic value in the fact that the intro is the exact same--I had been anticipating if he would do that but thought to myself, "no, that's impossible," yet lo and behold! In fact I think a lot of the comedic value so far stems from how paradoxically radical it is to be so much of a throwback. As for the nods to what things are different, I can see how that might develop thematically but, man, what if it is just entirely straight-laced as a sequel?

I adored Helmer in the original series, especially his relationship with Moesgard, and both will definitely be missed this time around.
Even in the series' weakest stretches, Helmer was gold. Many passings hit Twin Peaks hard, but I felt like a third Kingdom without Helmer would be akin to The Return without MacLachlan. My anxiety was instantly abated with how effortlessly the humor adapted to the twist on his character through his son. Which, man, that post-credits sequence in season 2 coming in at the very end certainly prevented a lot of headache wrt how to figure a replacement.
 

eyeboogers

RR Diner
Apr 14, 2022
45
53
The series was always supposed to be 3 seasons for a total of 13 episodes, out of superstition, so that's the formal reason for the 5 episode season. It is also good that it's a longer season, because the tangents are the best things about it.

Apart from the actor deaths, the other big reason for the long delay between seasons 2 and 3 also mirrors "Twin Peaks". Kingdom 1 aired Thursdays at 10 pm, then because of it being a minor ratings hit the network moved it to family hour on Fridays at 8 pm. Where the target audience, apparently, was not at home. Kingdom 2 bombed in Denmark, from the first episode, so it wasn't a quality issue.

In terms of the Moesgaard character, the actor is dead and the role is not recast, but for the very attentive viewer the character will make an appearance of sorts in Kingdom 3.
 

WorldFarAway

RR Diner
Apr 12, 2022
38
90
I forgot to say, the deliberate murkiness around what from the original series actually happened and what was part of Von Trier’s show within the show was quite peculiar. Another aspect which could be explored further or could just be an amusing meta-joke.
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
It's becoming clearer to me that Karen is meant to be a strangely overt audience surrogate--I wanted to start this post with "having seen the newest episode, I have to say, I'm fully along for the ride at this point," and then realized she had lines about her role being to follow the ebb and flow.

Similar to the return to the prior stylization, this new season of Kingdom has more owls than TR chose to reiterate, and with the Grand Duc it's almost like we get to see a modern incarnation of BOB in line with how he once functioned.

I forgot to say, the deliberate murkiness around what from the original series actually happened and what was part of Von Trier’s show within the show was quite peculiar. Another aspect which could be explored further or could just be an amusing meta-joke.
It's certainly a unique conceit, and allows an in-universe plausible deniability for any storyline that needs to be dropped.
 

AXX°N N.

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 14, 2022
83
188
Unfortunately this latest episode was sort of a dud for me, to the point that I'm not sure I trust the rest will start landing again. I'm having the same problems I had with series 2 where I'm not copping a feel for how each separate thing is supposed to be working to contribute to each other meaningfully, and the character interactions and motivations are starting to wear on me because they simply don't make logical sense. And it's strange to say that, because I'm not someone who complains when characterization gets abstract or conventional plot is thrown out the window; nonetheless, I'm left hungry for something. When a team of doctors go into a room to perform on a gargantuan heart, I chuckle at the absurdity, but I'm left questioning why it is, as a larger concern, that all pretenses of natural reactions have been abandoned. When there's no grounding whatsoever it becomes Things Happening and Characters Doing Things.

For instance, I struggled to hang my coat on the scenario between Judith and Little Brother in S2, but it felt at times like I could. But I just don't really believe in the emotion of the situation in Exodus with an older Judith, and I realize that because the saccharine music that plays seems intentionally schmaltzy, and that scenes with her have been comedically undercut by interruption, that the show is maybe not taking this absurd scenario deeply seriously. But I'm left feeling like: why not? I'm not getting much out of the characters being drawn thin enough that they're liable to be undercut by the writers and by other characters. It all feels arm's length.

And I'm not sure it just comes down to dramatization, believable emotion and some kind of sympathy or empathy to latch onto, because I feel like even the way it's directed is undermining certain elements. I wanted to like the surreal trip down the intestinal, veined hospital underbelly, but I didn't feel immersed and like I was being sucked in, I felt like I only took the scene at the level of concept instead of execution, and plain didn't think the veins looked interesting. Karen's rolling into the cold open environment shocked and thrilled me in the first few moments, but then I was left cold with how fast it went and how many times it kept jumping around to the hospital shenanigans, whereas I wanted to sink my teeth into what was happening with Big Brother and this surreal environment. But the camera wouldn't slow down and truly inhabit. And I've begun to feel this more and more with Karen's scenes, which have all the makings of something that requires camera slowness and lingering, but come and go without much time to register it, and they end up feeling kind of pointless.

And at this point, the character and conceit have stopped making sense. With Sigrid Drusse we had a character that was clearly defined, played off her son in a believable and endearing way, and seemed genuine in her investigation for reasons having to do with faith and personal history, and this was sold wholly by the actress. There were stakes. But the meta component to Karen's motivations is so vague, and her reasons for doing anything are impossible not to see as just pure plot momentum as decided by writer whim. And it's strange, because the plot here is so nonsensical, and usually a character becoming a vehicle to forward the plot is something done in a conventional narrative where getting through a plot structure and hitting all the conventional notes is paramount, but it's almost like a paradox: she's a trope born from the utility of getting through plot, but the plot is kind of plotless. She's a familiar contrivance in a surreal territory. I just don't know.

Not to compare it disfavorably to TR, but I can't help with the telephone scene with Einar. You've got one character who's clearly become a stand-in, speaking to who they've replaced (and who we, the audience, know is dead in real life) as a way to at least acknowledge them. Except that in TR there's no other voice, no gesture taken to put a voice to someone who doesn't have one anymore. But with Einar we get a voice and it's not convincingly his voice, and instead of being at all heartfelt or respectful to character, it's just sort of morbid, mean, and stupid. I ended up feeling like I didn't see the narrative or human need to cameo the character.

And hell, when the show now has doppelgangers and spirit vessel owls, maybe It's not unfair to compare. I should be honest and say that the doppelgangers in Exodus didn't frighten me, and if they were supposed to make me laugh, I didn't know if I was doing it at the expense of the intent or not, as I had stopped trusting the execution of everything. I feel the same way about the owl; it's not menacing, it's just kind of random and goofy. It's hard not to be a TP enthusiast and see owls and doppelgangers working suboptimally and feel a bit appropriated.

So yeah, I'm not usually one to do this kind of lamenting ramble about something that hasn't finished airing, and I'm open to changing my mind once all is said and done, but I felt pummeled by this episode and not in a way that felt assured of what it was doing artistically.
 
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Agent Earle

RR Diner
Apr 12, 2022
22
20
I am SO looking forward to checking this out! I was over the moon with the original two seasons back when I saw them in the early 2000s - thought they were the greatest thing ever since Twin Peaks. I only ever saw them that one time, though, so a rewatch is definitely in order before I embark on the journey with the long-awaited third season which I never thought it'd happen and is a dream come true! (Hope it doesn't end up as underwhelming as TP S3 did for me :) .)

P.S.: Surprised to read here that S2 bombed in its native country when it originally aired and to hear some reservations about its quality! To me, it was even better than S1 - even crazier, it built on what S1 laid out splendidly and set a very intriguing stage for more that never happend (well, except a quarter of a century later!).
 
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