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Trivia / Goofs
Times of India
When artist Einar Wegener cross dresses as a model for his painter wife Gerda, he stumbles upon his real self - a woman named Lili Elbe. As Lili latches herself to Einar, he dares to undergo the world's first sex-change surgery.
The Danish Girl is the kind of film that leaves by an unsettling feeling. It is almost like the world hasn't evolved since 1926, considering we are still discussing Caityln Jenner's highly publicized sex-change surgery and article 377's relevance in the Indian scenario. How Lili evolves from a clumsy, shy woman into a go-getter is overwhelming.
The story begins with Einar and Gerda, who've been married for six years. Their warm friendship, her lustful power over her man - director Tom Hooper paints a pretty picture. But there are definite signs of his 'other personality' quite early on, as he flirts more with the hem of his wife's dress, than her. Einar's self-discovery is thrilling. When the first time, he dresses as a woman - balancing in heels, caressing the pleats of the dress and kissing a 'romantic' man, he gets a hint of his existential life. From then begins the harrowing struggle as he fights medical experts and undergoes a harrowing experience of making peace with his real identity.
The scene in which Einar strips naked and caresses every fold of his body, hiding this genitals between his legs is heartbreaking. Actor Eddie Redmayne breathes life into the role. The very fact that he is more Lili than Einar just proves that he has got the drift.
But, the story is hardly fair to Gerda, who despite being a mute epitome of strength, is sidelined by the person she loves, beyond what society and reason permits. You wish the film was less conventional in its approach, but it delivers so much that you can barely complain. In keeping with the film's Casablanca line, the last word here has to be - "I've only really liked a handful of characters in my life, and this movie has two of them."
Einar Wagener (Eddie Redmayne) paints landscapes. The colours are suitably dark. Gerda (Alicia Vikander), his wife, paints quirky portraits. Einar is successful. She isn't. In mid-20s Copenhagen, the man is more popular. Despite these incongruities in reception, however, the Wageners seem happy. The comfort of their physical togetherness is enviable. Morning sex, it seems, is a frequent possibility. Then one day Gerda asks Einar to wear the tights and shoes of a ballet dancer. As he stares at his legs and toes, you know that there is little awkwardness here. He desires his form. Things soon get playful.
When he wears his wife's dresses and applies her lipstick, Einar gets called Lili. For a brief few minutes, the marriage seems idyllic. Gerda seems accepting of both, the man she calls her husband, and Lili, his invented cousin, who she then parades in high Danish society. It is at a fashionable party that their fidelity comes under attack. Lily gets kissed by a man, and their 'game' is over. For the audience, Einar, Lili and Gerda made good company. A conspicuous audience can only make for an intrusive crowd.
With his Oscar-winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, Redmayne proved that he knows how to get under the skin of a character. In The Danish Girl, he does precisely that. Lili Elbe lives under the skin of Einar Wagener and the actor accesses her with a wondrous conviction. His manner is beguilingly feminine, and Vikander is almost perfect in her demonstration of obvious confusion. When Lili becomes Gerda's model, the artist finally finds a ticket to that elusive success. Kindness holds together a frail relationship, but it is commerce which saves the day.
The trouble with The Danish Girl is that when Einar understands that he only desires to live in the world as Lili, the film's exploration of pain gets repetitive. You know things are not going to work out, not for Einar and Gerda, or for Lili, but director Tom Hooper sacrifices the several possibilities of a more layered reality for the certainty of cinematic beauty. Though the film is exquisitely shot, Hooper's exaggerated aesthetic only makes distant the turbulence that is wrecking the lives of his characters.
The Danish Girl is based on a novel of the same name, which, in turn, is inspired by a true story. You leave feeling that Hooper was circumscribed by the compulsions of adaptation. What he has done, however, is important. In one scene, Einar is walking down a street, his hair curled and his fingers daintily poised. A figure who is both man and woman is threatening. A brutal attack follows. Watching this film can be a wonderfully harrowing experience. It challenges not just gender, but our idea of determined sex, that one line we draw in stone. It's a shame then that The Danish Girl soon becomes a drag.
The film is an adaptation of a novel by the same name which, in turn, was roughly based on the life of Danish painters Einar Wegener/ Lili Elbe and his wife Gerda Wegener. Though it was inspired from the life of Einar, the novel was a fictional account of events to the extent that there was little similarity to history left.
The actual origin of Gerda Wegener is Danish, but was changed to being American (Greta Waud) in the novel as the author felt that the American readers would find it more relatable.
As is often mistaken, Einar was not the first to have undergone a sex change surgery, he was one of the firsts to have done so. Before Einar, Carla van Crist, Toni Ebel and Dörchen Ritcher had already been under the knife for the same.
Despite it being a fictional account, the film is being marketed as a “true story” of “unconditional love” and is being heavily criticized for doing so.
Nicole Kidman, who was extremely passionate about the project for years was all set to produce as well as star in the film as Einar. However, when Tom Hooper came on board, he decided to cast Edie Redmayne for the role.
The film opens in 1926 in Copenhagen where a portrait artist Gerda Wegener asks her husband, a famous landscape painter Dinar Wegener to fill in as a female model when the lady was late for the assignment. That simple incident unravels real identity. He was never the man he was made out to be, but a woman named Lili Elbe. A series of incidents go on to prove that Lili is insperable from Einar. A progression, first temporary and then irreversible, leaves behind Einar's identity and Lili takes command and demands a life she had never got. When he is taken for medical help, the doctors declare him insane forcing him and Gerda to flee to Paris. Gerda's portraits of Lili get famous but Gerda focuses on tracking down a single art dealer named Hans, Einar's childhood friend. (Hans had been the first boy that Einar had ever kissed). Hans and Gerda's mutual attraction causes problems as she is navigating her changing relationship to Lili/ Einar, but his longtime friendship and affection for Lili lead him to play a supportive role for each.
A sympathetic doctor convinces Lili to undergo one of the very first instances of sex reassignment surgery with the help of a two-part procedure - first remove Einar's external genitalia and then, after recovery, fashion a vagina. Lili is eager to become a woman and takes the bold step. Naturally, she cannot survive the harsh procedure and succumbs to it.