The Danish Girl (2015) has caused quite the stir in the press this awards season with it’s riveting cast and physical transformation for British star Eddie Redmayne. The Danish Girl tells the story of artist Einar Wegenar, who’s life rapidly changes when he discovers who he truly is. The drama bases around his and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) as they try to work together to keep their marriage together as Einar begins his transformation into Lili Elbe. Nominated for four oscars, it’s within a good shot of at least scooping one due to its wonderfully compelling cinematography and expected high performances.
Lets start with the lead. Eddie Redmayne is a beautiful man and a beautiful woman. Honestly, I felt slightly uncomfortable to begin with because I just couldn’t come to grips with a face that’s so familiar looking so drastically different. Especially with how much press surrounded the film, one minute I was watching Eddie on Graham Nortons sofa wearing a suit, and the second on a big screen in full makeup and a dress. Now obviously I get it, thats the point of ACTING, but that’s also the magic of it – art should make us, the audience, feel uncomfortable and put us out of our comfort zone and that’s what it did! 90 minutes later, Eddie Redmayne was just a thing of the past, a ghostly figure, that guy who played Marius that time. Overall an astounding performance, yet not a winning performance for myself (I am biased though soz but Leo <3)
Alicia Vikander is one of the best things to come out of this film. Her raw performance is the perfect forefront to Danny Cohens timelessly beautiful cinematography. He yet again, paints a colourful piece of art on our screens. Sweden-born Alicia has been nominated for best supporting actress (eek!) and I really wouldn’t mind if she won it to be honest as nobody makes me entirely swing their way with this category this year. It was amazing to see how she played our her character at the beginning who was quite open and suggestive to the idea of Lili. The moment that we became aware that she had been quite naive to the seriousness of what her husband was doing was heartbreaking to watch. The way she portrayed Gerdas confusion grief was beautiful in the way that sadness can sometimes be. Alicia was also nominated for TWO Golden Globes this year for her work on The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. She’s definitely on my list of actors to watch in 2016!
Hundreds of thoughts crossed my mind whilst watching this film. Confusion drawn up in regards to the science and politics of transgender as it is today, and how it was then. I thought I knew all there was to know about transgender – ‘how difficult can the premise be?’ – I thought naively. It wasn’t until I’d seen some eye opening TV about the issue that really brought everything to light for me. Transparent, BBCs Boy meets Girl, Bruce (now Caitlin) Jenners Diane Sawyers interview all highlighted deeper difficulties and strands in the building of what being transgender is actually like. The Danish Girl however, focus’s on being transgender at a time when it was a much bigger taboo subject despite Denmark now being one of the most socially liberal places in the world. The surgeon with whom Lili meets claims that he has “only one other man like you” yet now only 90 years on, 700,000 people identify as transgender in the U.S alone. The Danish Girl gives you an appreciation for how far both society and medicine have come since the 1920s (even though there’s still a long way to go.) It was hugely satisfying watching the movie with the knowledge that those who identify as being transgender can now opt for surgery which is a LOT safer and a lot more comfortable both physically and mentally. Einar/Lili went from a lovable painter, to a selfish husband, to an even more inconsiderate woman to a scared, vulnerable lady. Eddie Redmayne basically played 4 different characters and for that he deserves all the praise he is being given. But not the Oscar. Not the Oscar.
As for Amber Heard. My Johnny Depp ignorance towards her has finally passed thanks to her appearance in this film. She played an excellent point of reference for Gerda and her performance really reminded me of Juno Temple – who I love – so extra bonus points for the *trying not to use a derogotive word* …girl… who married my man x
Asides from everything else. All I want to do now is go to Copenhagen. In 1926 preferably. HOW beautiful is it?! With obvious thanks to cinematographer Danny Cohen and director Tom Hooper, but still. Take a peek at some of my favourite cinematic moments during the film.
List of casting changes since production was proposed:
- Nicole Kidman originally set to star in and produce the film.
- Nicole Kidman was to play Einar
- Charlize Theon was first choice for Gerda in 2008 before dropping out
- Gerda was then given to Gwyneth Paltrow who eventually dropped out
- Gwyneth Paltrow was set to be replaced by Uma Thurman
- Marion Cotillard was considered after Uma Thurman dropped out
- In 2011 the role was given to Rachel Weisz who shortly after, yep, dropped out.
- Alicia Vikander was THEN given the role in 2014 when Tom Hooper took over the project.
Alicia Vikander’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress has attracted controversy due to her having more screen time AND dialogue than Eddie Redmayne yet she wasn’t nominated for lead actress. This is technically classed as category fraud!
Amber Heards character is loosely based on Danish Actress Anna Lardssen Bjorne and on Danish ballerina Ulla Poulsen Skou who were friends of the Wegeners.
The Danish Girl has been criticised for casting a cisgender male in the role of a transgender character. For marketing the film as a true story of “unconditional love” despite many factual inaccuracies. Also for obscuring the story of a trans person and for being based on a fictional book that doesn’t tell the true story of Gerda and Einar Wegenger