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Friday, 4 March 2016

Movie Time: The Danish Girl

My dearest hearts,


**WARNING!!! This post contains a review of The Danish Girl. It will be an extensive post and it will have loads of pictures and text so please grab yourself a cup of tea and a warm blanket and Enjoy!**
Even though The Danish Girl did not take the Oscar this year, it was recognised through its supporting female actress: Alicia Vikander - a star rising in Hollywood through movies like the wonderful period movie "A Royal Affair" and the old-type spy movie "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". She rightfully took the floor at the Oscars, for the supporting actress, due to her skillful portrayal of Gerda Wegener. The movie The Danish Girl focuses on her struggles mainly, than of the ones of the main actor Eddie Redmayne, and delivers a powerful performance. The Danish Girl portrays the very first transgender operation performed on what we call now a hermaphrodite human being.
The movie starts with a couple of scenery shots of Einar Wegener's birthplace, scenery that we can - later on - see also in his beautiful landscape paintings. Einar is a talented and recognized painter in his motherland - action takes place in Copenhagen - while his wife struggles to find her subject that would give her fame as well. Gerda finds that "subject" to be actually the female version of Einar, when one of her friends runs late for her pose for Gerda's painting. She asks Einar to put the stockings on and the shoes so she could see how the light falls on them. As she starts to paint, Einar realises - bit by bit - that he has kept his true self locked up inside and that he enjoys playing being a lady... surprisingly  (or not) the experience makes him smile and blush like a maiden... Their friend comes and catches them in the act, smiles and open-mindedly saying they should call "her" Lili - a very fitting name, I may add... Greek lore associates lily meaning with birth and it is asymbol for motherhood because the flower was said to be created from the breast milk of Hera. The lily also hold masculine qualities as the Greeks held the lily as a symbol of high eroticism and sexuality (the long pistil of the flower suggesting a phallus and the pollen symbolizing fertility)...
It all starts as a game between the 3 friends: Einar and Gerda Wegener and the wonderfully talented arch ballerina Ullla. But the game does not last long, as Gerda takes Einar to Ulla's artists party dressed up as a lady... and he ends up kissing with Ben Wishaw 's character. The slowly start drifting apart as Einar starts feeling more confident and "at home" with being Lili. Gerda starts sketching and painting Einar as Lili and finally gets her break in the world of art, as her work gets noticed and she is requested to come to Paris. They move out and as Gerda's success rises, Einar becomes more Lili and stops painting. They relationship undergoes immense changes yey throughout the entire movie you can see how much they loved eachother (kudos for Alicia and Eddie for being such amazing actors!). Gerda says at one point that "kissing [Einar] was like kissing myself" - when she talks of their first kiss... Somehow I believe she envisioned what Einar truly was and that way inside Lili was just waiting to appear. If you listen to the story you can see clear that the true "man" in the relationship is Gerda, with her strong personality. Einar is the romantic, soft and dreamy "female" side of their relationship.
The true Lili and Eddie Redmayne playing Lili
The way Eddie portrays Einar/Lili would have deserved an Oscar, yet I believe the true star of the movie is not its main actor but rather the supporting actress: Alicia playing Gerda. The way she sustains Eddie's performance is brilliantly done and you truly believe them when they deliver the lines (when meeting the doctor that will perform the operation): "I believe I am a woman" (Einar); "I believe that too" (Gerda). You can feel both her pain at losing her husband but also the support that she truly offers him/her. It is true, Eddie did a wonderful job at capturing the behaviour of a demure and old-fadhioned lady, and his beautiful lines of his face & body help portrayal Lili in a wonderfully delicate light; yet I would have loved to know more about its inner struggles... it's feelings of letting Gerda go, considering how much he/she loved her.
Of course this is a tragic tale, as it is to be expected, considering the times in which the operation of sex change takes place. You have to also take into consideration that this was the very first operation of its kind that was performed - a breakthrough in medical science! The procedure consisted in actually 4 operations done at diverse intervals of time, letting the body "heal" in order to gain new strength for the next phase. The operations took almost 2 years... The first surgery, removal of the testicles, was made under the supervision of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. The rest of Lili Elbe's surgeries were carried out by Kurt Warnekros, a doctor at the Dresden Municipal Women's Clinic. The second operation was to implant an ovary onto her abdominal musculature, the third to remove the penis and the scrotum, and the fourth to transplant a uterus and construct a vaginal canal. The last operation was successful yet the body rejected the introduced organs and Einar, now known as Lili Elbe, died.
I still have mixed feelings about this movie... on one hand the stellar performance of the actors, the good soundtrack and the amazing way of filming the picture got me captured and made me shed a tear; yet the subject is so very controversial that I am not sure what I would have done if I were in Gerda's place... to love someone that much that you are willing to let them go and help them make a new life for themselves... that is huge and kind hearted, yet I do not know how well that would go against my beliefs in God and that he made us as we are and that we are good as we are born. You can see so many genetic modifications now, humans that are hermaphrodites - under what "category" would you fit them on?! And should they not have the right to chance themselves into what they really are inside? I still don't know how to answer that... do you?

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves movies