I watch a lot of movies and have been writing these movie blurbs for years. I have been posting the most recent ones here in the Non-LGBT Forum.
This movie just happens to be all about Trans issues of the early 20th Century. I was unaware of this tale - Christine Jogensen being my first exposure to Transgender ppl. However, I will leave this here. I also included some comments at the end.
The Danish Girl
Movie Blurb by Shale
January 3, 2016
I had been watching the trailers for this movie and wanted to go see it because of Eddie Redmayne playing a woman. Even tho many male actors have effectively played female characters from Robin Williams, Justin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes & John Leguizano. But, after Redmayne's spot on portrayal of Steven Hawking with ALS I just had to see this stretch.
Also, I had never heard of this first sex reassignment surgery which took place in 1930. The first transsexual person most of us in the U.S. heard about was Christine Jorgensen in the early 1950s. Actually, I heard about it in the late 1960s as I was too young to even know what it was about in my pre-pubescence.
Since those naive times, I have had expanded sexual encounters with a number of men and women and have personally had social contact with drag queens, transvestite men and a few transgender men and women. I have come to accept as a given that sexual orientation is mutable and sexual identity may be as well.
This movie is a biopic about Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) two artists in mid 1920s Copenhagen, apparently happily married and in love. Gerda does portraits, which aren't selling so well and Einar does more popular landscapes for which he has gained acclaim.
The movie then shows how Gerda presses her husband to stand in for a portrait where the model does not show. She needs to work on an outstretched leg with foot in slipper from the hem of a dress. He dons the stockings and slipper and lays the dress across his leg but discovers he likes the cross-dressing.
At first being artists in an enlightened community, they toy with it and Gerda even convinces Einar to go to an art function cross-dressed as Lili Elbe. It was a fun prank until a young gentleman actually comes on to Lili.
Gerda & Lili
Gerda also does several portraits of her husband as Lili and these enigmatic paintings have appeal and are marketable.
Lili in Mirror Painted by Gerda
However, the happy couple then experiences a test of their love as Einar starts realizing his feminine side feels more natural to him. He starts with secret transvestitism then more open about it with his wife and they soon realize there is a problem as Einar is becoming Lili.
The movie then takes us into the frightening world of early 20th Century medicine, as there is no concept of being transgender. From psychoanalysis that determines Einer is homosexual to another doctor who wants to commit him involuntarily to some radiation treatment that I have no idea what they thot they were doing.
Finally they find a maverick surgeon, Dr. Warnerkos (Sebastian Koch), who has insights on this and is willing to try the sex reassignment surgery.
I went online and researched the backstory on this and the actual biography differs from the movie portrayal but that is entertainment - the basic facts are shown. The movie was fairly well received and the aggregate critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 72% fresh and 75% of audiences liked it. The consensus was: "The Danish Girl serves as another showcase for Eddie Redmayne's talent – and poignantly explores thought-provoking themes with a beautifully filmed biopic drama."
I liked the movie but it was disturbing to watch at times when you see yourself or friends you know possibly being in that setting and time, like watching biopics of Wilde or The Imitation Game. I know of at least one transsexual person who did not watch this movie because it hits too close to home and would be disturbing. Probably a wise decision.
IDK how many reading this will be interested in this movie. It is rated R, probably due to the nudity, with the very beautiful body of Alicia Vikander shown (as it was in X-Machina) and also a brief view of Redmayne's genitals as he tucks them between his legs in one scene of exploring himself as a woman. (I digress - I used to do "Nude Reviews" of movies for nudist publications).
I would recommend the movie for a glimpse into another world both of history and gender identity.
Shale's Personal Take
I have never had a gender identity problem so why would I relate to this movie? Could be my exposure to many ppl who were drag queens, transvestites and even a few transgender ppl I have met at gay political functions or on the streets in the '70s.
Even tho I have never thot of myself as anything but male, I have made love to both males and females and have experienced a lot of the nuances of feminine and masculine lovemaking. I have been with more aggressive dominant males as well as those who were quite submissive. While I am not particularly inclined to be a sub, I can go with the flow to an extent. It is an exchange with lovers and lines can be crossed so easily.
I was raised heterosexual and enjoyed chasing girls exclusively for my first quarter century before I discovered my desire for men as well. My wife understood this and accepted it but so many ppl cannot. So, when the protagonist of this movie went thru changes after years of marriage, I was glad to see how supportive his wife was, even tho it was heart-wrenching to watch their relationship fade.
I have known gay men, who like myself did not realize their orientation until in their twenties. I have known men who were married and had kids before they discovered their true nature and they then had to divorce. My partner Jim was such a man and fortunately, by the nature of the urbane mindset of the 1970s his wife was amicable. I even met her and his daughter while in Pittsburgh. That is how it should be.
BTW, Jim had all the appearance of a Bear and often the same disposition but he had a tender, feminine side that showed at times. I think all guys have that to a degree. I have met many who did.
But, you do not need to have gender reassignment to experience the alienation that so many ppl still experience in these modern times. At least the barriers are coming down. DADT and DOMA are a part of our ugly past. "Reparative Therapy" has not only been debunked for years but is now being outlawed in many places.
However, there is much change that needs be done. Think about our modern world in the U.S. where ignorant rubes cannot wrap their heads around the fact that a person can be a woman in appearance and mind but still have remnants of cock and balls so they must use the men's restrooms.
Or, they still call Caitlyn Jenner "Bruce" and use the incorrect pronouns. Even in 1930 Denmark, Lili Elbe managed to get her sex and name legally changed and a new passport. This is still such an ordeal in our backward nation in the 21st Century.
WTF is the problem? --------------------------------
Reply January 8, 2016
"...the casting of a cisgender male for the lead role of Lili was met with criticism by activists and prominent voices, who argue that a trans actor should’ve landed the starring role. But it can’t be under-appreciated the impact of one of the biggest names in Hollywood today playing trans and bringing this remarkable story to life on the silver screen, spotlighting what it is to be trans like never before."
Everyone is a director and yet they have never made a movie. Which trans actor would they have chosen that could have delivered the performance better than Eddie Redmayne? IDK. Would that actor have had the name recognition to draw a disparate audience into the theaters to discover this amazing story?