Hello to everyone who has been following this blog for many years - I'm still blogging, I'm just moving over to https://www.claireheffer.com/blog - please continue to follow and let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been kind enough to visit over the years. May the lists continue...

Tuesday 16 February 2016


TRIVIA: The true origin of Gerda Wegener (Gerda Gottlieb Wegener Porta (15 March 1886 - 28 July 1940)) (not to be confused with German makeup artist Gerda Wegener) is Danish, not American. David Ebershoff, the author of the novel in which the movie is based, changed her name to Greta Waud and her origin to American and California-born to please the American readers. Both the novel and the film omitted that Gerda was lesbian or at least bisexual and had an open relationship with Einar/Lili that allowed her to live as a lesbian - the accounts suggest that they were more like sisters than spouses or lovers (Gerda lived openly as a lesbian in Paris in 1912). But in the film, she is portrayed as a straight, faithful and suffering wife who never left her husband. Gerda Wegener's famous Lesbian Erotica paintings are never mentioned in the film.

Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe wasn't the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery, she was among the first. Carla van Crist, Toni Ebel and Dörchen Ritcher had already had the surgery before Lili arrived in Berlin. There was an Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin, founded by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1919, that was like the Kinsey institute, and they were doing the operations, but the Nazis destroyed the files in 1933, so it's not possible to know for sure who's the first person who did the surgery. Lili's operations were made by Kurt Warnekros in Dresden, her first surgery was made under Hirschfeld's supervision in Berlin.

Alicia Vikander's Oscar Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, instead of Leading, was seen by many as a critical category fraud, as her character, Gerda, has more screen time and more dialogue than Eddie Redmayne's character, Einar/Lili. Vikander has 73:27 minutes of screen time, 61,7% of the movie's length. However, Redmayne was nominated for Best Lead Actor. Distributor Focus Features decided to campaign for Vikander as supporting actress because they thought it would increase her chances of winning. Vikander has refused to comment on the debate.

The paintings in the film were done by the film's production designer Eve Stewart and by British artist Susannah Brough. The film's paintings weren't exact replicas of Gerda Wegener's work, they had to be to adapted because they didn't look like Eddie Redmayne. The original portrait of ballerina Ulla Poulsen Skou, was also altered to resemble Amber Heard's face.

Lili consulted two physicians, both whom diagnosed her as homosexual, a third physician diagnosed her as intersexed and claimed she had rudimentary female sex organs. Hormonal assays taken just before her first surgery indicated more female than male hormones present. It is likely that she had XXY sex chromosome karyotype (Klinefelter's Syndrome) a condition not medically recognized until 1942. The fact that Lili was Intersex is not mentioned in the film.

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