Film Posts 34: The Danish Girl, 12th Jan 2016

The opening shot of the film sets the impression that will last to the end: this is a very painterly film. Every scene is shot artistically – you feel that you could take any individual shot from the film and hang it framed on a wall.

The film centres on two artists, Gerda and Einar Wegener, and Einar’s realisation that he is a woman who happens to have been born a man. Set in Copenhagen in 1926, a time when the world had no concept of transgender, Einar’s transformation into Lily Elbe is traumatising both for herself and for Gerda, whose happy, married life is so completely overturned as what started as a game unlocks the hidden Lily, and the man she has loved for years becomes a woman.

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Alicia Vikander as Gerda

Eddie Redmayne has the eye-catching role as Lily, but Alicia Vikander is wonderful as Gerda (in writing this I’ve just seen she’s won the Screen Actors Guild Award).

The Danish Girl deals with an interesting subject, it’s well-acted (Oscars likely) and sumptuous to look at. Lily’s process of learning how to be a woman – how to look, how to move, how to stand, how to express emotion as a woman – is handled well, but in the end, for me, it felt more of a well-made curiosity rather than an immersive emotional experience.


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….and as Lily

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Eddie Redmayne as Einar….

There’s been some criticism of the movie from the transgender community, arguing that here was a chance to cast a transgender actor, rather than Eddie Redmayne in a dress. But if the movie’s aim is to attract an audience so that the issues raised can be considered and discussed then casting Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne is surely a better bet than an unknown (but more authentic) choice.

It certainly shows how far we’ve come in the past 90 years to move from a position where the very notion of “transgender” was inconceivable to the medical profession and the general public to one where the debate is whether the film is sufficiently trans.


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2 Responses to Film Posts 34: The Danish Girl, 12th Jan 2016

  1. calensariel says:

    I’m glad you reviewed this. My bff and I want to go see it. To be honest, I didn’t know what it was about. But I’d go see anything wit Eddie Redmayne in it! Sounds kind of artsy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let me know what you make of it. Not my film of the year, but it did have some very good points, a great performance from Alicia Vikander especially, and interesting insights into the attitudes of the time (apart from one scene that I thought was gratuitous and a bit predictable, and could have been cut). And it’s sumptuous to look at.

      Liked by 1 person

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