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The King Is Alive [DVD] [2001]

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Product details

  • Actors: Miles Anderson, Romane Bohringer, David Bradley, David Calder, Bruce Davison
  • Directors: Kristian Levring
  • Writers: Kristian Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Christopher Ball, David Linde, Kobus Botha, Malene Blenkov
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Jan 2002
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005UJBD
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,281 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


The fourth film to receive Dogme certification, 'The King is Alive' tells of a group of travellers who are stranded in an African desert when their bus runs out of petrol. After a few days pass, ex-actor Henry (David Bradley) suggests they all occupy their time by staging a performance of 'King Lear'. The others agree, but as the rehersals develop so do the tensions between the performers.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Millar VINE VOICE on 17 Oct 2010
Format: DVD
This is another film shot using the Dogme 95 rules started by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.

It follows the fortunes of a group of bus travellers in the Namibian desert who break down in an abadoned mining village. As the heat, lack of food and water and isolation start to take their toll one of the group starts to write down 'King Lear' from memory and gets the other travellers to rehearse staging the play.

Breakdowns in relationships ensue and the true horror of civilisation seperation creeps into their psyche. Watch if you are a Dogme 95 fan, love great acting and character driven stories, or are just a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh, an actress who we don't see enough off nowadays. Brilliant.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Helen Smith on 15 Mar 2010
Format: DVD
If you like Psychological thrillers then you will find this to be an interesting movie. Set in the Namibian desert, with an interesting cast! Watch and enjoy!
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3 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Weatherley on 15 Mar 2008
Format: DVD
I bought this DVD in all good faith (not knowing the details of the
script) due to the presence in the credits of one of my favourite
actresses, Janet McTeer, who was deservedly nominated for an Oscar
the year before she appeared in this. What a fall from grace, going
from the sublime comedy, 'Tumbleweeds', to 'The King Is Alive', which
plays out like an X-rated version of 'Lord Of The Flies'. I can only
infer that Janet was brought onboard on the back of her Oscar nomination
in order to give this film some credibility and bankability in the first
instance. Yet the final product is still unwatchable. Basically, a group
of (supposed) adults become stranded in a Namibian shanty town, when
the SatNav onboard their bus malfunctions, leading them into the desert,
and away from civilization, before they run out of fuel. And despite
there being food and water to be had in this shanty town, within only a
couple of days of being stranded, the passengers are at each other's
throats, and behaving worse than the children in 'Lord Of The Flies'.
Janet's own character soon ends up demeaning and debasing herself in a
way that no talented, classically trained actress should either feel
compelled or wish to do. But at least she doesn't suffer the fate of
Jennifer Jason-Leigh's character, who is first press-ganged into an
unwanted sexual act, by the groups old lech, and then sequentially
poisoned by a faulty tin of carrots, and then drowned by being forced
to drink his urine. (Yes, it was that gross!)

I have no problem with the idea behind 'Dogma' movies of wanting them
to be innovative about camera angles, lighting and avoiding the use of
special effects.
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Powerful film, **not** a "Lear" remake! 3 Mar 2003
By Daniel M. Hobbs - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"A group of people stranded in the desert decide to stage King Lear" does not begin to summarize this powerful and challenging film, which shows how extremity reveals both flaws and strengths of our characters. One of the stranded characters, who has unresolved issues with his own daughter, attempts to convince the other characters to stage "Lear," or as much of it as he can remember and write down. This attempt proceeds haltingly against crisis incidents between the various characters and against fragmented revelations of character that have the allusive quality of Japanese haiku. Finally, the cast does not so much stage "Lear" as become "Lear."
The story's resolution resonates deeply with the "Lear" theme while avoiding allegory or simplistic, one-to-one correspondences. There are disturbing, even shocking moments, and characters do not go unscathed, but there are also small moments of redemption. At the conclusion, I was left with that sense of surprise and inevitability that marks the most excellent drama. The Dogme 95 emphasis on actor improvisation worked well for me in this depiction of a situation which, in real life, would require improvisation for survival. And even with the Dogme 95 technical restrictions (available light, natural sound), this film captures the beauty and immensity of the African desert and light. One is left with a heightened awareness that our own human dramas are played out against forces, both external and internal, that are only partially under our control.
Be prepared to concentrate, perhaps even view the movie more than once, to understand fully what's happening. This is **NOT** a "Hollywood rip-roarer" or love story. It **IS** one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking films I have seen in a long time.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Reach Exceeds Grasp 12 Dec 2002
By Richard Wells - Published on
"The King is Alive," is problematic in a very good way. It's a Dogme film, which means it was made under a set of rules that holds the film maker to natural light, ambient sound, actual locations, and possibly a few more restrictions. Working within that format the director, Kristian Levring, has made something quite remarkable. His location is the Namibian desert, and he has captured the splendor of the light, color, and landscape quite well. The intrusion of a soundtrack is blissfully missing, and the only music in the film leaks from a set of headphones for a disc player, lasts about 5 seconds, and works with great effect. Mr. Levring also made good casting choices, and the cast does a good job except for a few moments that are miserably improvised. The big problems are with the script. There's one plot hole that you could drive the broken down bus through, and a conclusion that's not conclusive - it's as if the production just ran out of film, or tape. Otherwise, it's entirely believable that a group of people disintegrating in a survival situation would choose to take their minds off their impossible situation by enacting a drama, especially because their situation is one of waiting rather than action; and it's conceivable that "King Lear" would be the drama, but it seems to me that if that's the set up then the play within the play should have some relevance to the play itself, and though Lear contains madness and betrayal, the connections are tenuous at best. Anytime you let Shakespeare into the picture you raise the audience's expectations for a work that will illuminate the master's vision, or vice versa. Unfortunately, neither occurs. The study of survivors in extrema is not enhanced by the use of "King Lear," and "King Lear" is not enhanced by the situation - or the film. Too bad, because it was an interesting concept. Given that, the film is worth seeing. It's certainly better than most of what Hollywood has to offer, and is a great example of how less can be more.
Memoriable 10 May 2014
By Abdullah A M A Alali - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although the movie may look stupid to some people because it's a quite movie with no dialog speech happening alot, but I do appreciate the silence and the lack of music in the movie. That's what attracted me to watching this movie.
Surprisingly Great 31 Jan 2013
By mr. contrarian - Published on
Format: DVD
For these tourists stranded in a desert village, staging an amateur production of "King Lear" is a very minor platform to expose their emotional desperation. A lesser film would have made it all about the play. This one realizes that each human loses civility or sanity at his or her own unique pace that doesn't require a "leader" or "followers." There is no detail here that reminds me of any other movie or book, which is quite amazing considering the subject.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the top twenty best pictures in 2001 4 Jun 2004
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on
Format: DVD
This film turns around the study of the several sociological human reactions under edge knife conditions. The play of Lehar in the middle of the desert is just one more device to explore the inner soul of every human being in that hopeless place.
An extraordinary performance of Jeniffer Jason Leigh.
In this argumental line there's a film of Buñuel titled El angel exterminador , that is very closed related to this one.
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