A fictionalized film about the life of
transgender pioneer Lili Elbe premiered Saturday at the Venice
International Film Festival.
The audience in the Sala Grande rose to
their feet after its showing, giving The Danish Girl a
10-minute standing ovation.
In the film, British actor Eddie
Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) plays Elnar Wegener, who
is asked by his wife, illustrator and artists Gerda Wegener (played
by Alicia Vikander), to stand in for a female model. The paintings
became wildly popular in 1920's Copenhagen. Gerda's dressing of her
husband as Lili ultimately led him to his historic 1931 operation.
The transformation shocked the world and threatened the couple's
The movie has been criticized for not
casting a transgender actor in the lead role.
Tom Hooper, who directed the film, told
Guardian that the film industry currently limits the roles
available to trans actors.
“Access for trans actors to both
trans and cisgender roles is utterly key,” Hooper said. “In the
industry at the moment there is a problem: there is a huge pool of
talent of trans actors, and access to parts is limited. I would
champion any shift where the industry embraces trans actors, and
celebrates trans film-makes.”
“In our film, Lili is presented as a
man for two-thirds of the movie, and her transition happens quite
late on, so that played a part in coming to a decision [to cast
Redmayne],” he said, then noted that the film includes “40 or 50”
trans actors in supporting roles.
“I'm pleased we achieved what we did,
but I'm sure there's more to do,” Hooper said. “What I hope is
that the film shows is that the only way possible to make inclusion
happen is through compassion and love.”
The Danish Girl arrives in
theaters November 27. (A trailer for the film is embedded on this
our video library for more videos.)