In The Danish Girl the hero/heroine pushes against the boundaries of body and identity. His/her death as a result of the surgery that had the purpose of shifting identity from male to female appeared to be both tragedy and fulfilment. He went into the surgery and she came out and died “happily” in the hospital gardens. It is both interesting and strange to attempt to sum up a two hour movie in a couple of sentences. Am I able to bring in the sense of engagement I felt as I watched the story unfold. And the question of memory comes to mind. Already a certain amount of time has elapsed (a week) since I saw it. And in that week there has been a variety of reading plus some TV programmes – by the way I’m enjoying an offering from Channel 4′s Walter Presents: Kabul Kitchen – and so the optimum time for writing about the movie has probably passed; ideally perhaps a day or two after seeing the film, so that the experience is still fresh but there has also been time for reflection, perhaps conversations about it.
So can I get back to The Danish Girl and say something of what it is I wanted to say ten days ago? On the one side there is Germaine Greer’s comment that got her into trouble with trans activists a few weeks ago which focuses on does surgery turn somebody from man to woman; where do we put ourselves in an attempt to conceptualise what is going on when it comes to gender identity. What is it that made The Danish Girl increasingly (as the movie went on) see himself/herself as female as against male? And specifically was there some dynamic of suggestion going on: key moments in which a feeling tinged experience tipped him to her?
The feeling tinged experience that pushes a person to reconsider what is true and what is false. I used to believe A and now I believe B. I think I want to limit the amount of changes to my life and specifically to what or who I am. Perhaps especially as I begin to shape my thoughts around entering my eighth decade. Do I want to say “this is me, end of story” or could it be rather that I want to loosen what I am? If I go ahead and live in Italy – for a few years, for ever? – what will change in me? And in some important way I want to do it in order to see how it changes me. It might have been better to do it fifty years ago but that’s not within my range of choices.
To be unsettled or to be settled? That is the question. Now I put the question in that form I find unsettled to be more attractive than settled yet no doubt I may want access to a brake so that I have some sense of control but that can be seen as limiting the possibilities.