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The Danish Girl

November 3, 2016

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The Danish Girl is a biogrophical movie based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, itself inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The movie was first shown at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival on September 5th, 2015, and then released in the United States to the public on November 27th, 2015. The casting was particularly applauded for the different performances especially the main characters such as Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe and Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener. Indeed, they received good critics, Alicia Vikander won the Oscar of best actress in a supporting role, Eddie Redmayne was nominated for best actor in a leading role but didn’t win (he already won it the year before for The theory of everything), then the movie was nominated for best costumes and decorations.

As we said before, the movie is inspired by the life of Einar Wegener becoming Lili Elbe, who was the first person who underwent surgery to change his gender. By the way, the novel the movie is based on does not tell the genuine truth about Lili and Gerda’s lives, for example, the characters of Hans and Henrick come from fiction. So, the strory takes place in the mid-1920s in Copenhag, and it shows all the process of the male character changing into a female, as much in a psychological aspect as in a physical one. It all starts when the portrait artist Gerda Wegener asks her husband, the popular landscape artist Einar Wegener, to disguise himself as a female to replace the model, who is late, to pose for a painting she’s working on. Then it turns into disguising himself for a ball and they create the character of Lili. But the more the story goes on the more Lili takes over to finally replace entirely Einar. As viewers, we can see how the transformation evolves very closely and admire the actor’s performance for showing the emotions and the psychological need to turn into a woman for the artist, and also the change of his sexuality. Moreover, the movie is really centered on the couple and how they face together the change of Einar’s sexuality, which changes totally their relationship without taking away the love they have for each other. Finally, the film’s ending is different from the novel in which Lili and Gerda do not stay together; indeed the director downplayed the role of Gerda and Hans love affair because he wanted to tell a beautiful love story that goes through a difficult hardship until the end (Lili does not recover well from her surgery and dies of complications).

Personally, I have a very positive opinion on the movie for several reasons. First, I simply found the movie beautiful in every way, like the pictures, the costumes, the atmosphere of the time and the place and of course the performance of the actors. Then, I found that it is a very touching movie because it treats the kind of taboo subject of transgender in a beautiful way. We are invited into the character’s thoughts and it treats very well the psychological aspect. It’s true that nowadays, the cinema exposes what the society sees as a taboo, like homosexuality for exemple which became sort of a common subject in many movies. But honestly it was hard for me to understand transgender, not in a discriminatory way, but it was just hard to understand why some people would want to change their gender. This movie really had an impact on me, because it made me understand the process, the psychological aspect. I really encourage people to see The Danish Girl, of course it is not in my opinion a movie you will watch a hundred times, but it tells a beautiful story and you may learn something.

Céline

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