Adaptation Biography

'The Danish Girl' Blu-ray Review: Period drama brings a long-overdue story to the mainstream

March 9, 2016Ben MK

With International Women's Day having just come and gone, it seems like an opportune time to discuss the story of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe that is The Danish Girl, for it's a film that not only touches on the issue of gender equality, but also addresses the topic of gender identity.

Based on novelist David Ebershoff's book of the same name, which in turn draws from Elbe's own memoir, "Man into Woman," The Danish Girl is really the story of the relationship between landscape painter Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), a portrait artist. Married for six years, the couple know what it means to support one another through thick and thin. However, nothing can prepare them for the emotional trials they will experience when Einar decides to live his life the way he believes his creator intended him to: as a woman.

Directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables), The Danish Girl transports audiences back to a place and time that was simpler, but also more dangerous; for in 1926 Copenhagen, where Einar and Gerda reside, so-called sexually deviancy such as his was regarded as an illness, one that merited treatment with radiation or shock therapy. Yet, despite the threat of the persecution he would face, Einar chose to proceed with a revolutionary medical procedure to make his transformation complete. Even more inspiring, Gerda chose to stay by his side and support him as he did.

The film also charts Lili's relationship with a man named Henrik Sandahl (Ben Whishaw), as well as Gerda's struggle to be recognized as an artistic talent in her own right. However, for the most part, the narrative rarely shifts its focus from Einar and Gerda's marriage, and the effect his life-altering decision has on it. Otherwise, things play out much like your typical period drama, which isn't a slight against the movie, but a testament to the caliber of its performances. It's taken nearly a century for Lili's story to reach the mainstream, but The Danish Girl is proof progress is indeed being made.

Beautifully shot on-location in Copenhagen, Denmark, The Danish Girl is dripping with lush period detail, from the costumes, to the production design, to the way the cinematography perfectly frames the city's historic architecture. Thankfully, this Blu-ray transfer does complete justice to the film's stunning imagery, delivering a very film-like image that highlights the movie's subdued color palette, as well as the delicate intricacies of the silk fabrics and oil paintings on display. Likewise, the disc's primary DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a joy to behold, creating an aural landscape populated by the subtle sounds of social mingling, birds chirping and raindrops falling gently to the ground.

Universal's one-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extra:

  • The Making of The Danish Girl (11:29) - Author David Ebershoff, the filmmakers and director Tom Hooper discuss Lili Elbe's story, the casting of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, the production shoot in Copenhagen, the cinematography and lighting, the costume and makeup design, and the relationship between Lili and Gerda.

The Danish Girl is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of March 1st, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French DTS 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 59 Mins.

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