“The Danish Girl” fled to Brussels

 

Although it was only mildly recognised during the last Oscars (with one award to Alice Vikander as best actress in a supporting role), “The Danish Girl” is probably one of the best films of 2015. It is an artistic film for the sensitive who are not afraid of confronting the dilemmas in the life of the unaverage. The palette of colours, as much in the paintings as in the settings, and the whole of the design of the production (by Eve Stewart) manage to convey the mood of the characters and the places where the action takes place. It is a pity that the Canarian Paco Delgado did not finally win the Oscar for a wardrobe which is not only superb but as defining a feature in the film as in real life for many people who, like the transgender, need to display their real self.

The scenes in Copenhagen are dominated by the steel-like Northern light. The interiors are glorious with predominant pastel blues. Paris is a version of Brussels, where most of the French scenes were shot. The film has been criticised for its many inaccuracies (we have to consider that, despite its marketing, it is a very free adaptation of the real story) which don’t let you fully understand all the details. So a very much Art Nouveau Paris, Brussels in real life, has been chosen to represent the end of the roaring 20s when Art Deco was a sensation in the City of Light. If Lily and Gerda moved to Paris at the beginning of the 10s, the artistic choice in favour of Art Nouveau instead of Art Deco makes more sense than the temporal setting of the film. Gerda and Lily were married for 26 years and not for 6. Hans Axgil did not exist. When Lily underwent her last operation Gerda was not by her side but in Italy with her new husband, Fernando Porta,…

 

 

 

As you must have realised, Victor Horta’s houses hold sway: the house of the art dealer Hans Axgil is Victor Horta’s, today the Horta Museum, with the dining room working as the living room; the restaurant where Lily and Gerda meet the doctor Warnekros is the Hotel Max Hallet; the fabulous stairs where a vernissage of Gerda’s paintings takes place belong to the Hotel Hannon. Other locations for which you don’t need to buy a ticket are the café where Gerda and Hans meet (the brasserie “A la Mort Subite”), the restaurant Falstaff, the Parc of Brussels (with its beautiful kiosk), or the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert. If films can help us to apprehend beauty, in the case of “The Danish Girl” we have it right under our noses.