The Danish Girl: Film analysis ("I thought you knew" scene)

Escrito por sofifilm 13-03-2018 en Film Analysis. Comentarios (0)

After presenting herself as a model for a painting by his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), the Danish artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with his female identity and begins to live as a woman named Lili Elbe. Although her marriage becomes difficult, Gerda defends Lili as she explores her true identity and finally undergoes one of the first gender reassignment surgeries in the 1930s. This moving biopic was adapted from David Ebershoff's book of the same name and directed by director Tom Hooper. CREDITS: TM & © Universal (2015.) This academy award winning film has a great variety of dramatic elements and scenes that make it unique, and an exemplary film to analyze.

The "I thought you knew" scene is important for the development of the plot, showing a great revelation of events and emotion from the characters. It starts with a mise-en-scene, set by a closeup of Lily´s hands on the dining room table, to show that it´s her as a character being shown on screen, rather than Einer. The camera moves up to Gerda entering the house casually, taking off her jacket and showing a smile that quickly fades away from her face as she is left surprised, by seeing Lily sat sobbing silently by herself at the dining room table. The long shot showing Lily from outside the dining room shows realization from Gerda, and enhances the mood of loneliness through the gray-paneled walls and simplicity, given by emptiness, in the room and the mild lighting throughout.  

The soft, dramatic music at the beginning of the scene, during the first 10 seconds, is a non-diagetic element that builds up tension; as expectators, we can see that it is Lily sitting at the dining room table, and that something is wrong with her, something which Gerda isn´t expecting when she enters their house. The music also works as foreshadowing for the revelation to come.


The change in angle creates a change in perception of the character. This is shown in different moments. For example, the closeup to the fidgeting hands of both characters that shows them as uneasy; Shifts between medium closeup between the two character´s faces, to focus on their individual speeches and facial expressions at certain moments (for example, when Gerda sheds a tear.) Specifically, character emotion shown through facial expression. This change in angle throughout the scene aids in showing an effect of distance in between both characters, shown physically to produce an emotional effect.


The sharpness of sounds makes all actions in the scene gain importance; the footsteps as the characters enter the echoey apartment, the sobbing of both characters, the creaking of the of the floorboards, breathing and sound of cloth. The sound of the footsteps shows a great contrast, as we can see the difference between Gerda´s footsteps at the beggining and those from Lily when she leaves the dining room to come back as Einer. These dramatic elements combined with the events in the plot are what make this one of the most powerful scenes in the length of the movie.

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Watch the video of the scene below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-FH-TOuFpQ