As leaf with tree, I belong to thee… Alicia Vikander brings real empathy to her portrayal of Gerda.
The Danish Girl (2015) isn’t really a dog movie but it makes so much sense when seen from the eyes of Havappe (Pixie), the dog who plays a silent spectator to an otherwise poignant story. Inspired by the lives of Danish artists Einar Wegener and Gerda Wegener, The Danish Girl follows Einar’s self discovery, in a clockwork script, as Lili Elbe, the woman.
When we are first introduced to the painter duo, everything looks perfect, at least on the surface. Artists, romantics, friends; the couple are everything to one other and Copenhagen never looked any better, not to forget the cute little dog referred earlier. However, in a heart wrenching process, Einar discovers that he is a woman in soul and with Gerda’s support, attempts the first-ever male to female gender reassignment surgery.
The movie may be all about a man finding out his true female side but I believe it is more about Gerda — the woman, the wife, the lover, the best friend who stays by his side despite knowing what it would mean for them as a couple, and her. To this dog, she is the true hero of this film. Alicia Vikander shines through every frame as Gerda Wegener. To see the love of her life fade away with each passing day into a distant image or rather a different person, how it must be like to support someone who is erasing himself from your life, and letting you know the same? Where you’d expect anguish, anger and apathy, Gerda gives you amiability, adaptability and ambivalence. Such strange passion, loyalty and love…
“I have a habit of falling in love with souls who have yet to be at peace with their bodies, their minds, their weaknesses. I try to build them, to find the parts of them that are missing in me. I end up with holes in my chest.”
Consider Gerda’s pain in this conversation when she asks her husband (who has by now assumed a female outlook) to let her have the man she loved for once:
Gerda Wegener: I need to see Einar.
Einar Wegener: Let me help, please.
Gerda Wegener: I need my husband, can you get him?
Einar Wegener: I can’t.
Gerda Wegener: I need to talk to my husband, and I need to hold my husband. Can you at least try?
Einar Wegener: I’m sorry.
And all this while Havappe sees the disintegration of what was his happy little family. He was loved by both but the poor dog had no tricks left in him to make them laugh any more.
As Havappe would tell you, sometimes the best you can do for someone you love is, to never leave.