The Danish Girl: EW review

24 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Danish Girl': How transgender people have been depicted in Hollywood.

The Event: Saturday evening’s premiere of Redmayne’s latest film, The Danish Girl, at the Regency Theater in Westwood. The film “The Danish Girl,” which stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first people known to have undergone gender reassignment surgery, opens on Nov. 27.One would think that when you win the for Best Actor that there would be some sort of respite – time to collect your accolades and bask in the glow of your achievement.

In reality, the film is the result of a nearly 20-year journey that began when novelist David Ebershoff came across a brief reference to Lili’s story. Why We Dig: For just a moment at Saturday’s premiere, Redmayne ditched his usually light-hearted red carpet demeanor to play a mean-mugging model — and we’re not mad about it. Born Einar Wegener in 1882, Lili Elbe was a painter of landscapes and was married to a fellow artist, Gerda, before becoming Lili, first in dress and later in flesh. “I had always thought Christine Jorgensen was the first to undergo gender affirmation surgery, in the 1950s,” Ebershoff says. “So it struck me: Why hadn’t I heard of Lili Elbe if she had done something so courageous so many years earlier?” While working at Random House in 1997, Ebershoff, who knew he wanted to try to write a book about Elbe, traveled to Denmark to begin research. “I went looking for Lili to understand the context that she came from,” he says. Redmayne is now tipped to receive his second Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the Dutch painter. “I was actually making a film with Lana Wachowski, and she pointed me … when I talked to her about Gerda and Lili’s relationship, she knew about their art and their work and their life together.

The actor, who portrays transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in the film, was looking especially dapper in his navy and deep red plaid wool Gucci suit, which he styled with matching navy tie, and black suede shoes. Ebershoff immersed himself in the cultural life and institutions of 1920s Copenhagen, including the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which artists like Einar and Gerda frequented. She basically told me where to start reading, and where to start educating myself.” Wachowski became the first director in Hollywood to come out as transgender, and completed her transition to a woman in 2008. We all kind of congratulated him but Tom was looking at his watch, and said, ‘We all have to get working…’ So, that just shows that he is all about the work.” “At the time I was promoting The Theory of Everything, so I was promoting quite a lot,” the actor says. “So I met women of different generations, in London, in New York, in Los Angeles, and the generosity of virtually every transwoman that I met – they started each conversation with, ‘There is no question that I am not willing to answer.’ The need to educate felt very real and urgent. Those behind the movie say the project had been in the works for years but that those who were interested had trouble getting it made. “It was considered commercial poison,” screenwriter Lucinda Coxon said in an interview, while director Tom Hooper said he often heard the project described as “risky.” While there were delays, Coxon now says, “I feel enormously grateful that we didn’t manage to make it sooner, because I think it’s a project whose time has come.” Another question is coming to the fore as “Danish” comes to movie theaters: whether those who are not transgender should play transgender parts.

You can see it in the way he runs his fingers across his wife’s silk nightgown when they embrace and in the way he looks at other women—not leeringly or out of desire to be with them, but rather to be them. Vikander conveys her character’s psychological struggle with a stunning grace that’s every bit the equal of her flashier costar’s, especially when Einar, now fully blossomed as Lili, decides to go through with her groundbreaking but life-threatening surgery.

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