Cinestudio Preview: The Danish Girl breaks barriers

MAX FERTIK, 19′
STAFF WRITER
 
Arriving shortly to our very own Cinestudio is the hugely successful and controversial love story, The Danish Girl. A masterful and very relevant film over 15 years in the making, this Tom Hooper production is loosely inspired by the true story of Lili Elbe and Elbe’s wife Gerda Gottlieb. That said, it is more closely based on the book by David Ebershoff of the same name. As the Academy Awards steadily approach, the hype behind The Danish Girl has increased since it received four nominations including the prestigious best actor nomination, Eddie Redmayne, and best actress nomination, Alicia Vikander. The director Tom Hooper, whose name many people might recognize, has previously worked on The King’s Speech and Les Miserables, both of which also achieved immense success.The film chiefly follows the story of married artists Lili Elbe, played by Redmayne, and Gerda Wegener, played by Vikander, on their revolutionary journey together through Lili’s transition into becoming a woman. To give a bit of a background for those who have not yet seen the film, The Danish Girl begins with Gerda in dire need of a female model for a painting after the one she hired never shows up. Instead of abandoning the project, Gerda decides to enlist the help of her husband, played by Redmayne, named Einar at this point, to fill the role of the female model. Coerced by his wife into wearing a variety of female clothes, Einar accepts his wife’s request and she completes the painting with great success. As the same painting begins to gain popularity, Einar begins to understand his lifelong identification and comfort as a woman that the modeling has begun to unveil.
With such a spark as this painting Einar, now known as Lili, begins a campaign to finally become who she was always meant to be. Alongside her supporting lover Gerde, the two travel to France to find some answers. There in Paris, not only is it discovered that the portrait of Lili is admired significantly more than Gerde’s other portraits, but the couple also reconnect with a childhood friend of Lili’s. Here they discover, after meeting with several doctors, that Lili is not the only man who identifies as a woman who has approached them. Growing continually uneasy in her male body, Lili decides to embark down the treacherous and groundbreaking path of sex reassignment surgery. So begins a whirlwind of changes and tensions between Gerde and Lili that will bring viewers to their knees.
Without a doubt, this story describes a unique dilemma – one that involves so many more than one would expect.
The fact that this story takes place in a time when racism, sexism, homophobia and other prejudices were far more prevalent in America makes the story of Lili so much more incredible. The Danish Girl tells the story of how people everywhere struggle with a pain most never understand: that of living within a body that they don’t feel they belong in. Some decide to live their lives keeping this inside, pretending not to care because of fear or anxiety, but others decide to take action and actually make the physical change. There is bravery on both sides of the transition because there is fear in both. The exquisite performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander truly succeed in portraying such an immense subject and putting it in such a unique perspective. Not only did it reveal a story that breaks down barriers and discusses gender identity, but it also illustrates a distinct and beautiful romance that reinforces the resilience of love no matter the circumstances. The Danish Girl gives an account of loving as a trans individual but also shows the equally trying ordeal of retaining the same quality of love as a spouse. Such films offer the world timeless characters that not only teach but offer the viewer the privilege of imagining what life would be like in their situation.
The film did an admirable job in the box office grossing about $34.8 million with a budget of just under half of that. Although there has been some controversy involving the accuracy of the story and the fact that a trans woman was portrayed by a cisgender man, The Danish Girl had an overall very positive reception. Be sure to check it out at Cinestudio from February 11-13. It is a truly monumental film.

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