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THE KING IS ALIVE
aka DOGME 4 - THE KING IS ALIVE
USA: IFC Films
UK: Pathe Distribution
Cast: Miles Anderson, Romane Bohringer, David Bradley, David Calder, Bruce Davison, Brion James, Vusi Kunene, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer, Chris Walker, Lia Williams, Peter Kubheka
Director: Kristian Levring
Countries: Denmark / Sweden / USA
USA & UK: 109 mins
USA Rated: R for sexuality and language
UK Certificate: 15 for strong language and moderate sex
USA Release Date: 11 May 2001 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
UK Release Date: 11 May 2001
Stranded in the heat of a barren African desert, eleven bus-passengers shelter in the remnants of an abandoned town. As rescue grows more remote by the day and anxiety deepens, an idea emerges: why not stage a play. However the choice of KING LEAR only manages to plunge this disparate group of travellers into turmoil as they struggle to overcome both nature's wrath and their own mortality. In the heat of the desert, emotional and sexual tensions surge around the play's production, and they are forced to confront their most raw emotions. With all inhibitions stripped away, their individual fight for survival makes them perform the ultimate role in front of each other - their own lives.
Director Kristian Levring is one the founders of DOGMA 95, along with Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Soren Kragh Jacobsen. The four Danish filmmakers established DOGMA 95 in Copenhagen in March 1995 with the expressed goal of countering "certain tendencies" in the cinema today. This culminated in a manifesto comprising an indisputable set of rules known as 'The Vow of Chastity.' As Levring explains, "Dogma is a set of 10 rules. It is about stripping all the superficials of modem filmmaking -stripping that off. It's about getting back to the essence of story making." The first three films comprise Von Trier's THE IDIOTS, Vinterberg's FESTEN (aka CELEBRATION) and Kragh Jacobsen's MIFUNE.
THE KING IS ALIVE was shot using up to three hand-held digital cameras, the result of which was subsequently transferred to 35mm format. Shooting took place over six weeks on location in Africa during June and July of 1999, with each of the actors doing one to three days rehearsal beforehand. Director Levring shot chronologically which strengthened the dramatic development and also allowed him to make subtle adjustments to the story as the actors' performances evolved.