By Dan Clendenin

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The Danish Girl (2015)

This British biographical drama re-creates the story that’s told in the 1933 posthumous autobiography by Lily Elbe (1882–1931) called Man Into Woman, and based on the 2000 novel by the same title as the movie by David Ebershoff. Lily Elbe was born as Einar, and as an adult was a successful painter who was married to the fellow painter Gerda Gottlieb. Set in 1926 Copenhagen, the movie unfolds with Gerda and Einar deciding that they will shock their party circuit with a bit of cross-dressing. But what starts out as transvestite role playing develops into one of the first openly documented gender transitions, including sexual reassignment surgery. As you might imagine for almost a hundred years ago, Einar is diagnosed as insane and perverted, and undergoes a series of horrible “cures.” Gerda herself undergoes numerous transitions, from disbelief, fear, and anger, to love and support (although in real life their marriage ended). Some people have complained that the movie is only loosely based on the historical facts. Alicia Vikander won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gerda.

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