The past few months have graced us with several new queer, mainstream films with one of these being The Danish Girl. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as trans woman Lili Elbe who, in real life, was one of the first (known) recipients of sex reassignment surgery.
The Danish Girl follows Lili as she navigates the changing relationship with her wife Gerda (played by Alicia Vikander) as well as the love triangle they get into with Lili’s childhood friend Hans (played by Mattias Schoenaerts).
The Danish Girl has been garnering critical acclaim and some are even suggesting that Redmayne may even receive an Oscar nomination for his performance. And not only that but the film also seems to be doing (reasonably) well at the box office, earning $46,250 from four theatres in a limited box office run over the weekend.
But despite all of these accolades, it wasn’t actually very easy to get the film made, as The Danish Girl‘s director Tom Hooper explains to AfterEllen.
Hooper reveals that they struggled to get The Danish Girl financed and “it’s been a 15-year-journey for Gail Mutrux, the producer”, while “it’s been a seven year journey” for the director. It “speaks to the sort of kind of extraordinary pace of change in the perception of trans issues”, says Hooper who also credits “a lot of good work by people moving this conversation forward” as well as shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent for creating this “big tipping point with the acceptance of trans stories in the mainstream culture”.
Though, other than getting financing for the film, Hooper reveals that one of the hardest parts of making The Danish Girl was creative, regarding “the balance between pain and joy in Lili’s story”.
The director says that he “didn’t want the film to only focus on that and not get the sense of the joy and the promise of release when you discover your true self and kind of showing that”, but, if it was “too joyous”, Hooper asks “would it be dramatic, or would it be truthful to the 1920s?”
Also worth noting are Hooper’s words on how involvement from trans consultants shaped the film. The Danish Girl has received some backlash from trans advocates for its decision to cast Eddie Redmayne, a cis actor, in the role of a trans woman, but Hooper does say that the film’s team had a “great group of people” helping them, with trans journalist and present Paris Lees on-board to answer questions that Hooper and Redmayne had, as well as having a “very inspiring conversation” with Redmayne during pre-production.
Moreover, Hooper says that unlike in real life where Gerda and Hans ended up together, he decided to let Lili and Gerda stay together as they “didn’t want the film to play as heteronormative” and instead wanted to “honor the love between Gerda and Lili”. Some have criticised the director for not sticking to facts but given that so few films about women in love end with the women still in love, others have praised the director for his creative decision.