Blog 6: The Danish Girl

The Danish girl is a biographical drama/romance movie that came out in 2015 directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne. It is based on a true story. I saw this movie the first time when it came out and honestly I really loved it. Not many movies make me cry but it definitely made me shed quite a few tears.

I’m going to start off this blog with talking about the general plot to make sure everyone reading this is on the same page. To continue, the movie takes place in Copenhagen in the mid 1920’s and is about a man named Einar and his wife Gerda, who are both painters. Gerda asks Einar if he can pose as a woman for the painting that Gerda is painting and it reveals Einar’s lifelong struggle with gender identity. Einar who now identifies as Lili, begins her journey as a woman and deals with many things such as still having to dress as a male in public, the changing relationship with her wife and all around emotions about being “different.” It all becomes too much for Lili and seeks help from psychologists because she thought she was mentally insane for feeling the way she felt. Eventually, she meets a doctor who says that he’s met a lot of individuals like Lili and suggests gender reassignment surgery in which Lili would be the first woman do undergo the procedure in the world. Lili immediately agrees and travels to Germany, undergoes the surgery and shortly dies soon after, but as a woman, her lifelong dream.

Firstly I would like to mention that this movie isn’t exactly historically accurate. The real Lili had many successful surgeries but she died of complications from a uterus transplant. Even so, this movie was very emotionally moving and really showed how strong Lili was despite the historical time she was living in. One of my favourite scenes is at the end, briefly mentioned in the above paragraph, is directly after Lili’s surgery and she’s on a rocking chair. Her wife, Gerda, despite everything Lili put her through, is still by her side, supporting her through everything. Lili says, “how have I ever deserved such love,” and then dies shortly after. It really shows the bond that Lili and Gerda and how even though Gerda had a hard time with it, she was supportive.

Some key concepts of feminism are demonstrated throughout this movie. One key concept is equality. Feminism in its essence supports the equality of all, regardless of gender, age, profession, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion. Lili lived in a time where being transgender was never heard of and often categorized as having schizophrenia or being homosexual, needing treatment above all. I don’t know exactly how Lili was treated, but I can imagine how difficult it was for her to live day by day feeling like the odd one or thinking about being put to death or requiring jail time, which was the punishment in many countries at the time for such “crimes.” To emphasize LGBT treatment in the 1930s, Germany criminalized homosexuality requiring jail time or being sent to concentration camps to die there. Even so, Lili, according to history, was able to get a divorce, get her name legally changed and even her own new passport with her new name on it. I doubt Lili was treated exactly equal to any other person identifying as cisgender, but this movie really supported equality and how we should treat everyone with equal intentions and actions. Another concept of feminism is the notion of self acceptance. Feminists want everyone, especially women, to feel good in their own skin, feel unique and love themselves as they are. Lili was confused with her past male presence and decided to take a leap forward and live the way she wanted to live, displaying strength and fortitude.

In conclusion, the movie “The Danish Girl,” is a portrayal of the struggles of gender identity and the journey to self acceptance and explores the concepts of equality and self acceptance despite societies standards. I hope anyone going through something similar can find the strength and courage to do what feels right and have access to help whenever needed.

Resources:

Lili Elbe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lili_Elbe

Information on the movie: http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1423/the-danish-girl-2015-and-the-deconstruction-of-identity

LGBT laws in 1930s: https://www.equaldex.com/timeline/1930s

Equality and gender equality: https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/gender-equality/

To watch the trailer click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88APYIGkjk

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