The Danish Girl – Book vs. Movie | LibroLiv

Yesterday I posted my book review of David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl, which you can view here. At the end of said review I stated that my next mission was to watch the film. Well, now I have, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys in comparison to the books. So, without further ado, here is The Danish Girl – Book vs. Movie.


The lack of an inner monologue in the majority of film adaptations of novels makes this idea very frequent and apparent for me. In the book, Einar is able to express his emotions towards his femininity directly to the reader, yet in the film, this transition appears rather abrupt. Of course, we’re shown that Einar has an appreciation for Gerda’s silky dresses, and make-up process, yet that doesn’t point to trans-sexuality but to metro-sexuality at a push. Granted, this film is marketed as an account of a transexual female’s life – and so this idea would be obvious – but had it not, would this brief moment really point to Einar suddenly wanting to be Lili? I fail to believe so.

However, Lili’s birth does spiral from this moment, making it more applicable to the film. But still, too abrupt for my taste.


I was so glad to see real chemistry between Einar and Gerda in the movie, so much more so than in the book. In the book, there was a stiff aura between the two, in my opinion; it was obvious they loved one another, but not so clear that they were in love with one another. However, the film portrayed a couple enjoying married life at parties, and having fun turning Einar into Lili. Frankly, the process leading up to Lili’s first appearance was my favourite section of the entire film!

Gerda Wegener

I loved Alicia Vikander as Gerda. I honestly think she was perfect for the role, for she embodies female empowerment, and really felt suited to the role. Personally, I’d say her performance was the best in the movie, probably even topping Eddie Redmayne’s, due to her ability to portray such a raw and real emotion.

Compared to the book, her character was altered a little. Ebershoff wrote Gerda as Greta, an American who went to art college in Denmark. In real life, Gerda was a Dane who went to the same art college as Einar, and they married when 19 and 22, respectively. Frankly, I think the film developers made the correct choice in staying true to history rather than the novel, because Greta’s fictitious back story was very California based, and very sad. It was irrelevant for the movie to contain such an aspect, despite it adding a dimension to the book. I feel as though the correct choices were made.

Finally, I loved Gerda’s determination. She was clearly told on multiple occasions that her art was too contemporary to be appreciated, yet she persevered. It was such an empowering thing to see, a female of the early 20th century taking the lead.

Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe

The film community are raving about Eddie Redmayne’s contribution to this movie, and I have to agree with everything they are saying. Redmayne is a talent, as we saw in The Theory of Everything, and pretty much every motion picture he’s been in. He is a talent, simple as that.

His portrayal of Einar was perfect, and he really brought the character to life, an idea that was perhaps lacking a little in the novel. I never noticed it before watching the film, but Ebershoff’s depiction of Einar was maybe too timid for my taste. Now, in the film, yes, he is still noticeably uncomfortable in many situations, but he still managed to have charisma at the same time.

His portrayal of Lili is what is stopping the press, and I obviously have no criticisms. All hail Eddie Redmayne.

The Danish Girl vs. Man into Woman

I think the screenplay writers took inspiration from both David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl, and Lili Elbe’s autobiography Man into Woman in order to take the story to the big screen. For one, the screenplay is more honest to history, just like Man into Woman, which is a chronology of Lili Elbe’s diary entries.

I am pleased that they decided to do this, as I felt as though Ebershoff exhausted the honest story in The Danish Girl. Granted, it is only loosly based on the truth, and such back stories to characters are nice to read about, but it would surely prove boring if moved to the big screen, or – equally – compressed when tried to squeeze into a 2 hour slot.

I think the right choices were made for the movie.

I really hope you enjoyed this post, and if you did, make sure to leave me a like and a comment – it means the world to me!

Have you read The Danish Girl? Have you seen the film adaptation? Tell me what you thought in the comments!

Until next time, and to keep up with my reading as it happens, find me on Goodreads, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Olivia x

2 thoughts on “The Danish Girl – Book vs. Movie | LibroLiv

  1. This is great- I love comparing books to their movie versions (sometimes even just to complain about finer points)- but sometimes it is just interesting how different choices work better for the different mediums. Plus, I hadn’t known about this book, so I can add it to my TBR list!

    Liked by 1 person

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