Last night, I watched The Danish Girl. What a truly remarkable film! I had not watched it before because I knew the ending would be sad. However, my boss had watched it and when I told her that the sad ending was why I had not seen it, she insisted that the ending really wasn’t sad. I trusted her on this and oddly she was right. It wasn’t sad; it was just a beautiful movie. Now if you don’t know the story of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe and you don’t want to know anything about the film before watching it, then stop reading right here.
Lili Elbe was one of the first recipients of sex reassignment surgery. She had been born Einar Wegener and was married to fellow artist Gerda Gottlieb. Einar knew all of his life that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body, and the movie follows his transition from a man to a woman. Garda stayed with Lili until the end. You see, Lili died from complications from the four surgeries she had (in the movie it is only two).
There are two things that make this film extraordinary. The first is Eddie Redmayne. He is stunning in his portrayal of Einar/Lili in the film. Redmayne has been criticized by some in the transgender community because Redmayne is a heterosexual male. But Redmayne is a superb actor and any criticism is unfounded because he was superb in the role. The second is the way that Lili and Gerda’s relationship is handled. The movie is a true tribute to the transgender community. Lili Elbe was a great pioneer and many pioneers do not survive their pioneering endeavors. Lili was one of them.
The death is dealt with so sensitively and with such grace that you just see the beauty of the scene over the sadness. I had expected to cry at the end, but when the scene came, I did not cry. I guess I had prepared myself enough that I was ready for the scene, but also you know that Lili is at peace at the end.
If you have not seen this movie, I think you should. If you have seen it, I hope you will tell me in the comments what you thought of it.