This Monday happens to fall on the 26th of December, which, being the day after Christmas, makes it a bit of a challenge to feel inspired. Following the cathartic activities and food babies experienced during this Christmas weekend, I'm sure everyone is experiencing some sort of a holiday hangover.
It's one of those classic Copenhagen days where the sun makes brief appearances but the sky is still carrying that dooming grey, gracing us with the occasional burst of rain. As I cycle around the city, looking for any cafe to be open, I can't help but feel disheartened to see the Christmas markets already being de-constructed and taken away until next year. As I've said before, Christmas comes every year, but the anti-climactic aftermath is never easy to face. We have such a massive build up to these two days at the end of the year and once they'e over... that's it. We have the new year and then *winter* to look forward to.
Yet, the optimistic side of me now speaks. While cycling, I couldn't help but appreciate how beautiful Copenhagen was. The dark skies, though by first impression considered mood altering, bring out the best of the city's colours. The likes of Christiansborg Palace and Børsen only stand out on a day like today. But perhaps I am more aware of the surroundings I pass every day because I spent this morning watching The Danish Girl.
At the end of this past summer, I made a trip to the modern art museum by the sea, ARKEN. Like most Danish museums, I was impressed by the architecture and style and complete composition of it. But my favourite part from my visit was the collections of Gerda Wegener and Einar Wegener (later Lili Elbe), the subjects for the film.
To summarize the film and history, Gerda and Einar were husband and wife, both artists in Copenhagen during the 1920s. In efforts to assist finding his wife's niche in her artwork, Einar would dress up in female clothes and model for her paintings. Becoming a successful and celebrated subject for Gerda's portraits, a new persona was created by the name of Lili. Lili was a subject of beauty, carrying the ideal boyish figure of the 1920s and exotic almond eyes. For a short while, they kept it a secret, disguising this Lili as a cousin of Einar's, but eventually it became apparent that Lili was in fact a part of Einar's identity. He indulged in the moments he could play dress up and discovered more and more about himself.
In 1930, Einar became one of the first people to go through with a total gender reassignment surgery. Being still a very new concept at this time, and only in Germany, it was a massive risk. There were four complex surgeries removing parts and putting new ones in their place, and it wasn't until the fourth surgery, involving the transplant of a uterus, that brought Einar (at this point officially renamed Lili) to her dying breath.
The movie and actors have created a wonderful portrayal of this story. While today, transsexuality is not as taboo as it once was, I think this is a remarkable story for both characters. You see Einar, struggling with this internal conflict of what is truly himself, versus what is socially accepted. Then you see Gerda, an aspiring artist but also the wife who stands by her husband in a transition completely foreign to her, and the rest of the world. View it as a love story or a story or loyalty, but view it. It's a great film. The cinematography, the musical score, the costumes are all of high calibre. I'm not a huge movie watcher, but when I see one that I like, it becomes obvious in the way I obsess over it. And I'll also admit it was nice to see the familiar landscapes and city shots of Copenhagen - a reminder of the history and allure supporting the background of daily commute.
<< P.S. this is a painting of Gerda by Einar.