The true story of Lili Elbe, who struggled with her transgender identity
and sought to correct herself with gender reassignment surgery.
The Danish Girl (2015)
Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by Lucinda Coxon
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw,
Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sebastian Koch
Based on the book by David Ebershoff
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander)
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne),
Best Costume Design, Best Production Design
I had never heard of Lili Elbe or her previous self, painter Einar Wegener, prior to watching this film. But she was a pioneer, an inspiration to the transgender community even today. She was the first known case of gender reassignment surgery, and it unfortunately claimed her life. This was a time when even the simplest surgeries had a high mortality rate, so an operation as complex as this was next to impossible. Still, Lili's story is inspirational, touching, and thought-provoking. Identity crises have been plaguing transgender men and women for all time, and it's only recently that they've been allowed to be who they truly are without much prejudice or being committed.
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are fantastic as Lili and her wife Gerda. Their chemistry is flawless, and as Einar fully transforms into Lili, you can feel that chemistry begin to crack and ultimately die. Redmayne especially is amazing as he fully delivers that transformation in a believable way. Lili existed in a time period that was unforgiving towards people who were different in any way, and watching her plead with doctors to help her only to see them repeatedly betray her and try to commit her to an asylum is heartbreaking. Until she met Dr. Warnekros (Koch), who was developing a new surgery that ended up being her answer.
Coupled with Alexandre Desplat's painfully beautiful score, The Danish Girl excels in telling a story that will open your eyes to the pain of the transgender community. You never know the struggle that people are having inside, and sometimes that struggle may be more painful than you can imagine. Lili Elbe never got the chance to be the woman she knew she was, but this film keeps her alive forever.