People go to see movies for many different reasons. Some people see movies to be entertained, while others want to learn the details of a story. The majority of people who see The Danish Girl fall into the latter category. The film is another biographic film that tells the story of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo a sex reassignment surgery. The film is directed by Tom Hooper and stars Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. The movie is the latest in a long line of movies based on true stories. I’m not sure if this is a recent trend or if biographic movies have been around for a while. It seems like a lot more have been popping up lately. I think The Imitation Game represents the best realization of this formula to date.
The problem with only seeing movies based on true stories is that there is no imagination involved. You might as well be reading a non-fiction book. History is filled with important people who led interesting lives. The task of filmmakers nowadays is to pick the true stories that can be successfully adapted into films. Why would you exert the effort to create something brand new when there are so many preexisting stories? Biographic films are a win-win for directors who want to avoid work and audience members who see movies to learn.
So should you see The Danish Girl?
Well, it depends on how important you think the story is. If you are interested in the transgender experience, chances are that you’ve already seen the movie. I must admit, the film makes you empathize with Redmayne’s character. “It doesn’t matter what I am, it only matters what I dream.” he says. Late in the movie, Elbe reveals that if he cannot become a woman, he will most likely commit suicide. He is literally two personas within one body. Now this is where I would start asking the most questions. Believing that you are a woman’s mind trapped in a man’s body is more an aberration than anything else. I’m not really sure what to say about this. To Elbe, being a woman is so much better than being a man, that he would rather die than remain alive in a man’s body. This seems a bit extreme, but who is anyone to deny another person’s emotional experience? This is a difficult topic to discuss and I would welcome any insight.
The Danish Girl is a well-made movie but it lacks the entertainment value that I desire. Telling Elbe’s story is an honorable motive and I think everyone who worked on this movie deserves credit. Both Redmayne and Vikander are amazing in this movie, I would hesitate to recommend this movie to any of my close friends. If you don’t get out to the movies very often, there are other films that are more deserving of your time and money. I recommend catching this one when it comes out on Netflix, since seeing it on a smaller screen won’t change your experience that much.