The Danish Girl (2015)

 

 

 

Director:     Tom Hooper.     

Starring:     Alicia Vikander (Gerda Wegener), Eddie Redmayne (Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe), Tusse Silberg (Older Woman), Adrian Schiller (Rasmussen), Amber Heard (Ulla), Emerald Fennell (Elsa), Henry Pettigrew (Niels), Claus Bue (Man at Window), Peter Krag (Stage Doorman), Angela Curran (Dresser), Pixie (Hvappe), Richard Dixon (Fonnesbech), Ben Whishaw (Henrik), Pip Torrens (Dr. Hexler), Paul Bigley (Man in Gallery), Nancy Crane (Enthusiastic American Woman), Nicola Sloane (Brothel Madame), Sonya Cullingford (Striptease Artist), Matthias Schoenaerts (Hans Axgil), Clare Fettarappa (Receptionist), Jake Graf (Henri), Victoria Emslie (Gallery Employee), Raphael Acloque (Man in Park 1), Alexander Devrient (Man in Park 2), Nicholas Woodeson (Dr. Buson), Philip Arditti (Dr. McBride), Miltos Yerolemou (Dr. Mai), Sebastian Koch (Warnekros), Cosima Shaw (Hospital Receptionist), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Ursula), Rebecca Root (Nurse), Issy Van Randwyck (Manageress), Aisha Fabienne Rossm (Shop Assistant 1), Holly Weston (Shop Assistant 2), Eleanor Hafner (Shop Assistant 3), Maya Lindh (Shop Assistant 4), Rebecca Clay (Scent Customer. Erich Redman (Concierge).

  a wonderful love story where the couple is put through many challenges because the husband is transgender & goes through the surgery to make himself female

 

Spoiler Warning:

Copenhagen 1926.  Einar Wegener is a landscape painter in Denmark.  He has a special place that he has painted many times.  It's called Vejle, where he grew up.  [Vejle is on the southeast coast of Denmark on the Vejle Fjord.]  Einar is married to Gerda Wegener, who is also a painter, a portrait painter primarily.  Currently Einar is having an exhibition of his art with all the paintings of Vejle landscapes.

Einar goes to work in a theater.  He sees his wife's best friend, Ulla, and briefly talks with her.  He tells Ulla, dressed in her ballet outfit, that he wanted to check on the painting of the backdrop for the storm scene. 

Einar's art dealer is named Rasmussen.  He told Gerda that he would look at her portrait paintings, so Gerda shows him some of her paintings.  Rasmussen in disappointed because all the paintings are portraits.  He says he doesn't really handle portraits and that he doesn't think it would benefit either of them to show the paintings.  When Gerda returns home she asks Einar not to ask Rasmussen about her paintings ever again. 

Gerda says that she is supposed to do a portrait of Ulla in her ballet outfit, but she keeps canceling on her.  So she asks Einar if he would put on the stockings and ballet shoes so she can at least paint these while she is waiting for Ulla to actually sit for her. 

Einar starts putting on the stockings and slippers.  Then Gerda has him drape the dress over his front.  Einar gets a wonderful feeling about the feminine clothing he's wearing.  He carefully feels the material of the dress.  All of a sudden, Ulla suddenly arrives and Einar is jolted out of his state of enchantment.  Ulla laughs at seeing Einar, presents him with some lily flowers and says they are going to call Einar, Lily. 

Gerda mentions a boy from Einar's past, who was a bit of a bully.  Einar says Hans is now an art dealer in Paris. 

Gerda gets undressed for bed.  Einar notices that she has a new nightgown on.  She jokes that since he likes the nightgown so much, she might lend it to him.  Einar says:   "I might enjoy that."  Gerda asks:  "Is there something you'd like to tell me?"

Coming home from a party, a nude Gerda starts to take Einar's shirt off.  She suddenly notices that underneath the shirt, Einar is wearing her new nightgown.  She finishes taking off the shirt and then the pants.  Einar starts making love to his wife while still wearing her nightgown. 

Gerda draws Einar's body while the sun is just starting to rise.  Einar awakens while Gerda is still drawing Einar, who asks what has she been thinking about?  She replies: "Wondering when you got so pretty."  He laughs and says:  "I was always pretty."

In the morning Einar studies the many drawings Gerda created of him.  When Gerda comes home, he tells her the drawings are good.  She says thanks and then mentions them going to the Artists' Ball.  Einar says he doesn't want to go.  So Gerda asks him why not go to the ball in disguise as a woman.  They both laugh about it, but Gerda says Einar might even enjoy it.

Gerda starts putting make-up on Einar.  Then she wants to draw Einar's feminine looking face.  Einar speaks of himself as "her".  She says to his wife:  "You excite her."  Gerda calls him Miss Lily and says she's awfully forward.  Miss Lily says:  "You have no idea."  They start kissing.

Gerda shows Einar how to walk like a woman.  He starts mimicking her moves.  Then they go to the costume racks in the theater.  They find Lily a wig, shoes, a dress and other items. 

Gerda and Einar now go  to the ball as Gerda and Einar's cousin Lily.  Lily feels self-conscious and sees the men looking at her.  Gerda says Lily is a pretty woman and she will just have to get used to the men looking at her.  Two frends call Gerda over to them, leaving Lily behind.  Men are still looking at her.  A handsome young man comes and sits beside her.  He starts talking to her and she gets up and leaves.  He follows her and keeps talking to her.  His name is Henrik Sandahl.  He admits that he has been watching her.  They find an empty room and they kiss just as Gerda arrives to see them.  Gerda looks angry.  At this point, Lily's nose starts bleeding.  Gerda walks into the room and Lily virtually runs to her.  They now go home. 

The next morning Gerda tells Einar:  "I think it would be better if Lili didn't come here again."  Einar says:  "Fine."  Now Gerda wants to know what Lili did with Henrik.  Einar says that for a moment with Henrik, he was just Lili.  Gerda gets upset and tells Einar that he has to stop this.  They were only playing a game.  She starts to cry.  Einar says:  "I am going to try."

Einar starts having headaches.  He doesn't look happy and Gerda suggests that maybe he should see a doctor.  He says he's fine.

Einar goes to the changing room and looks at his naked self in the mirror.  He pushes his penis between his legs so it can't be seen.   She stands there admiring her body. 

Lili has lunch with Henrik.  Meanwhile, at home, Gerda creates a painting of a nude Lili.  Now Rassmussen loves the nude of Lili.  He is sure he can sell these types of portraits. 

Lili goes to Henrik's place.  He wants his relationship with Lili to be known publicly, but Lili says no.  The couple kisses.  He grabs her groin area and Lili leaves the place very quickly.

Gerda comes home to find Lili just sitting at the dining room table.  She asks Lili if she is okay.  Lili says, no.  She says she's been seeing Henrik Sandahl.  Tears run down Gerda's face.  Now Lili goes to the bedroom and closes the door.  When Einar emerges, he says he does not love Henrik.  He loves Gerda.  He now admits that he had a brief affair with that boy, Hans.  They kissed once, but then Einar's father showed up and smacked Hans down.  Suddenly, Einar feels ill.  He tries to get up but falls on the floor.  They go to see a doctor. 

The doctor gives Einar a radiation treatment to the groin.  After the treatment, Einar says to the doctor:  "You hurt Lili."  The doctor tells Gerda that her husband is insane. 

Rasmussen tells Gerda that he sold the Lili portraits.  So now he can mount a full show.  A Paris studio is going to represent her.  He tells her she must go to Paris. 

Gerda opens a letter from the radiation doctor.  He says he has no choice but to recommend that Einar be treated for perversion at St. Hans Hospital. "You are required to report there on the 14th of the month,."  Gerda tells him about the doctor's letter.  They go off to Paris for the show.

Einar no longer can have sex with Gerda. 

Einar or Lili goes to a live peepshow.  She follows the naked woman's body movements.  When her hands go down between her legs, Einar can't do that because of the radiation treatment.  It makes him feel very sad. 

Gerda pays a visit to Einar's childhood friend, Hans.  He refers to her as the Danish girl.  Gerda says she wanted to meet him to put a face to a name.  She says she believes he was a childhood friend of her husband.  At lunch she tells Hans that she is married to Einar Wegener.  Einar told her that Hans kissed him once.  Hans says that one day Einar looked so pretty in an apron that he just had to kiss him.  "The next thing I know, his father's chasing me out."  Gerda says Einar has lost his way.  He's not working and needs someone to represent him, someone who knows him. 

Gerda says  to Einar that she met Hans and Hans wants to see him.  All three are supposed to meet at a restaurant and then after dinner, Hans can come over to their place and see Einar's work.   The problem is that Einar doesn't show up at the restaurant.  After dinner Gerda brings Hans over to her and Einar's place.  Waiting in the living room is Lili.  Gerda introduces Lili to Hans.  She explains that Lili is Einar's cousin from home.  Lili says that Hans can't imagine how thrilled she is on this occasion.  She tells Hans that she met him once in Vejle.  Lili says she's so sorry that Einar couldn't be here.  She keeps on talking, but then she has to excuse herself and goes to another room.  She cries.  Now Gerda says that Hans better leave.  He says goodnight to Lily and she says the same to him.  He leaves.

Lili tells Gerda that she thinks she just left in time.  She's sure Hans caught on to their little charade.  Now she asks for one of Gerda's nightgowns.  Gerda says:  "No, we've never done that.  Lili's never spent the night."  Einar says that when she dreams they're always Lili's dreams. 

Lili is much happier today.  She bought herself a new dress.  Gerda says they don't have much money left.  Lili says that's okay, because now she feels up to being's Gerda's model again.

Gerda has another showing of her Lili paintings.  Hans is there at the showing and he asks to take Gerda out for dinner, but Gerda reminds him that she is still married to Einar.  But when she sees Hans talking to another woman, she grabs her coat and leaves.  She sits down on an exposed bench.  She looks very sad.

When Gerda arrives back home, she tells Lili that she should have been at the showing.  She adds:  "This is not how it goes."  Lili says that's the way it was with her and Einar.  Gerda says she wants Lili to stop playing this stupid game.  Lily replies:  "Don't you think this a a game." Gerda tells Lili that she wants to see her husband again.  Lili says:  "I can't."  Gerda says:  "I need to talk to my husband.  I need to hold my husband.  She then asks, can't Lily at least try to get Einar.  Lily says:  "No I can't."   Lily's eyes start to well up with tears. 

Gerda goes to Hans for a bit of male companionship.  They kiss, but Gerda draws back from Hans.  She returns home and Einar now tells Gerda that he doesn't think he can give her what she wants. 

Ulla advises Gerda to go see a doctor who has an interest in men who feel they are females.  Einar goes to the library to look up literature on what he's got.  On his way back from the library, he is accosted and then brutally beaten by two homophobes. 

Later, Einar goes to see Hans.  Hans says he doesn't now what's wrong with Einar and Einar himself says he also doesn't know what's wrong with him.   He does say that this is not new to him.  He remembers being back in Vejle and struggling within himself to try to remain Einar throughout an entire day, but now there is so little of Einar left in him.   Sometimes he thinks about killing Einar completely, but that would be killing Lili too. 

Einar goes to some doctors.  One doctor wants to drill small holes into Einar's head.  Another doctor says Einar is a homosexual.  Another doctor writes down his diagnosis as schizophrenia.  Einar jumps out of a window to get away from that particular doctor.  Einar now asks Gerea if she thinks he's insane?  Gerda says Lili is not insane. She then asks Einar if he thinks she made him this way?  Einar says definitely not.  He says Lili was always inside him.  Gerda asks him to go to one more doctor. 

Einar tells the doctor:  "I believe that I am a woman, inside."  "And I believe it too", says Gerda.   And, now, for the first time, they hear a doctor says that he thinks that the couple are probably right.  He says he can surgically make Einar into a woman physically.  The first operation will remove the male parts entirely.  Then once the patient gets strong enough again, the second operation will construct a vagina.  It's an irreversible change with a high risk of failure. Gerda says it's too dangerous, but Einar says:  "It's my only hope."

Hans and Gerda see Einar off on the train to go to Dresden, Germany.  Gerda wants to come with Einar, but he keeps saying no.  He kisses Gerda goodbye and then gets on the train. 

Lili goes to the hospital for the first operation.  The doctor says she has to wait for a week.  He adds that she needs to rest and gain some weight. 

Hans tells Gerda to go see Lili.  He says Einar told her no only because he wanted to protect her. Hans asks her what does she want him to do?  She says she wants him to go away.  Hans is crushed and leaves. She starts to says she's sorry, but Hans is gone.

Gerda comes to see Lili just after her surgery.  She finds Lili crying with two nurses trying to console her.  Gerda is shocked at the sight.  She goes over to Lili and tells her, she's here and it's all right.  Lili is ecstatic to see her. 

When Lili gets stronger, she and Greta go back home to Denmark  Lili gets a job in an expensive department store.  She sells perfumes. 

Lili runs into Henrik.  She tells him the truth about everything and Henrik is not turned off by it.

Lili tells Gerda that Einar is dead.  She says Gerda was taking care of Einar and then of Lili.  But now it's time for Lili to take care of herself.  She has to move on with her new live and Gerda should do the same. 

So Gerda tries to track down Hans.  He is in London now.  Gerda tells the person on the line to tell Hans that it's a beautiful day in Copenhagen.  Gerda does some shopping and she sees Lili with Henrik. 

Lili tells Gerda that she's going back to Dresden for the second operation. Gerda says Lili is not strong enough and the operation might kill her.  Lili asks Gerda to come with her, but Gerda says she won't go with Lili to hurt herself.  Lili asks her again to come with her.  . 

Lili is now in the hospital.  With her is Gerda.  Lili is very grateful that Gerda came.  When Gerda goes to her hotel, Lili cries.

Gerda at the hotel now runs into Hans.  They are happy to see each other. 

It's time for the operation.  When Gerda and Hans get to the hospital the doctor wants to talk with them.  The doctor tells Gerda that Lili lost a lot of blood and now he has a fever.  The prognosis does not look good for Lili.  Gerda rushes into Lili's recovery room.  Gerda awakens in the morning to find Lili awake.   Hans comes in and asks Lili how is she?  Lili says:  "I am entirely myself."

And now Lili asks Gerda to take her outside to the garden.  She keeps asking so the three go out into the garden.  Lili is in a wheelchair.  She says:  "You mustn't worry about me anymore, Gerda."  Then she asks Gerda:  "How have I ever deserved such love?"  After a few more remarks, Lili dies.  Gerda cries over her loss. 

Gerda and Hans take a ride to the site of Einar's most beloved landscape.  She wears Lili's scarf around her neck and the wind picks it up and takes it away.  Hans starts to run after it, but Gerda tells him to let it go riding on the winds. 

 

"Lili Elbe's diaries became the basis of the groundbreaking memoir 'Man into Woman', published in 1933.  Her bravery and pioneering spirit remain an inspiration for today's transgender movement.  Gerda continued to paint portraits of Lili for the rest of her life."

 

Terrific film.  It really shows you how much torture the transgender person, Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, had to through just to find out who she truly was.  In many ways it's both a happy and a very sad story.  Happy for Lili as she pushed closer to her goal of becoming a woman, but very sad for Einar's wife Gerda. The film makes one feel very empathetic to people of one sex, who feel they are really of the opposite sex.   Both Alicia Vikander (as Gerda Wegener) and Eddie Redmayne (as Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe) were absolutely wonderful.  I kept taking turns feeling bad for both of the main characters, who were both victims of a mix-up of one person's feeling that he was a woman in a man's body.  I had the same feelings of sympathy for Chris and Bruce Jenner and for their children. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

 

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