Though it didn’t exactly bore me, I must confess that The Kingdomwas a disappointment after what I’d been hearing from friends in New York. For all the thematic ambitions of von Trier’s 1991Zentropa, what impressed me about it was its fancy technique and visual style; after all, this feature was shot mainly in black and white by Henning Bendtsen, the same man who shot Carl Dreyer’s Ordet and Gertrud. These virtues pretty much go out the window in The Kingdom...
The graininess of security camera footage and the scuff marks on the hallway floors contribute to the texture of decay, while the color scheme suggests rot and excrement. One of the series’ indelible images—a phantom ambulance—taps, simultaneously, into fears of the night, medicine, automation, and the irrational unknown. The innate spookiness of the graveyard shift has rarely been conveyed so potently.