There is no doubt that the images in the film The Danish Girl are lovely and a joy to watch as are the leading actors Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener and Alicia Vikander as Gerda Gottlieb. Screenplay is by Lucinda Coxon an excellent minimalist job as regards dialogue but eloquent as regards narrative. The director is Tom Hooper. This is a classy really well shot and well worked out film. I am not going into the plot. The best way to get that is to attend the film. One thing that struck me apart from the drama is that the film presents a marvellous portrait of what marriage should really mean. But despite the beauty of the images this is an unsettling film. Please excuse me if I share below some of the thoughts the film provoked for me.
“Be Yourself!” Don’t put on airs and graces. Don’t develop a false accent. That was the general idea in our house when I was young.
As a teacher the objective was not to change the pupil into a different person but to draw out the native talents of that person, provide support, develop self-confidence, integrity, a general realisation of self-worth.
That, to me, is the weakness in the film, “The Danish Girl.” The idea is that it is possible to rebuild a human being into something different from what they are; to go from an unsatisfactory state to a satisfactory state.
That, too, is the basis of the psychiatry’s paradigm. To change someone who is disordered into a different “ordered” person. And not worrying about the price that person has to pay.
There is definitely an air of futility about Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener’s attempt to transform himself into Lili Elbe. And increasingly there is an air of futility about psychiatry.
I pointed out at an empowerment seminar in Brussels recently organised by Mental Health Europe that mental patients require change. However we are not in a position to author that change. Really I think the system we have is the creature of psychiatry and for change to come psychiatry must pull its weight.
It is difficult to understand the operation of psychiatry even if one is a mental patient. It is organised along lines like the guilds and trades of old. There is secrecy surrounding it, no real sharing of knowledge or methodology, no dialogue.
My own opinion is that more reflection, more introspection on its part, is required before psychiatry can extricate itself from the mess it is in.
Even then there is a long way to go before the emancipation of mental patients can begin.