The Danish Girl (2015)
January 26, 2016 4:36 AM - Subscribe

A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda's marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, the movie is based on the 2000 fictional novel of the same name.
posted by sively (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Danish Girl previously on the blue.

I went to see this with my 13-year old, who's passionate about civil rights and equality and has been dying to see this film ever since the trailer came out. She cried her eyes out, while I was left underwhelmed, disappointed and annoyed.

I can only assume that a few years ago, when this movie went into production, there was a feeling that any respectful depiction of a transgender person must tug at the viewer's heartstrings constantly, and that the proper way to accomplish that is to have the protagonists in a constant state of tearful agony. I have lots of thoughts about this movie, but the main one bumming me out after seeing it was: why couldn't we see their happy life together, just for a while (except in the "before" state)? From what I've gathered, real Lili and Gerda's relationship was a good one after her transitioning, too. They entertained, went to parties and Lili flirted with guys. Gerda drew explicit lesbian erotica (go ahead and google it). That would have been the movie I would have wanted to see: two unconventional, fun, interesting and creative people having a fascinating social life and loving each other just the way they were in 1920s Paris.

But no. Being transgender meant doom, and loving a transgender person was protracted torture. Also, what the hell was with Lili's permanently demurely downcast eyes? Why do I suspect that the producers feared that making her more daring, more sexual, more self-confident would have garnered less sympathy from the average viewer? Which is all kinds of messed up.
posted by sively at 5:19 AM on January 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I myself was really annoyed by the movie summary for this film, which was little more then "A husband makess a special request of his wife".

Looking at the small, poor quality image of the poster, I was "What? Asks permission to have an affair with another woman? Asks her to have an affair with another woman?" There was no context, no clue as to the actual content if the film.
posted by happyroach at 8:20 AM on January 26, 2016

"This film is classic, nasty exploitation in every way. It exploits a trend in the zeitgeist for profit and acclaim, and it does so in the worst way, exploiting a minority without bringing any benefit to that minority."

This quote is from a lengthy, impassioned explanation from Letterboxd user Sally Jane Black of why she feels this film is harmful in its depiction of transgender characters and issues. I haven't seen the film myself, but her review is well worth reading for anyone who would like a trans woman's perspective on it.
posted by tomorrowromance at 9:45 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Is there any perspective other than a trans woman's that is even worth listening to? I have yet to hear a single trans person speak positively of this film.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there any perspective other than a trans woman's that is even worth listening to?

I understand why people are saying that and where they're coming from (and I'm not surprised in the least that the movie is viewed negatively). And I also agree that the trans perspective on this movie is essential to the way it should be placed in the greater context, and of vital importance to the ensuing discourse.

But. Yeah, I'm sorry, there's a but. Would this mean that e.g. only gay perspective on Brokeback Mountain was worth listening to? Or any similar comparison, wrt movies depicting minorities. I'm asking sincerely.
posted by sively at 12:07 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a gay man, yeah. Our perspective on that movie--and we are not monolithic--is the one that matters. For something that purports to be a story about a very specific kind of person, the first concern is whether the story is told accurately about other people who are the same. If that hurdle can't be passed, there's no other perspective that matters.

e.g., I would not be seeing this movie if it starred A-list actors with the best script ever devised by a human brain, because the people this movie is actually about are saying "Nope, this is total bullshit." I won't pretend to be consistent in this regard, I definitely enjoy problematic stuff, and this particular case I feel strongly about.

Once you pass the hurdle (as everyone involved with Brokeback did, in my opinion) of telling a story that is a true representation, then other perspectives can matter. Until then? Nope.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:30 PM on January 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

OK, that makes perfect sense. And the blog tomorrowromance linked to made many good points, and the one about Lili's gender being depicted as entirely performative was spot on.
posted by sively at 11:16 PM on January 26, 2016

« Older Movie: Lady Snowblood...   |  Book: Children of Dune... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments