Self(less) Love

I couldn’t blog about The Danish Girl when I wanted to, but maybe there’s a reason these things happen. For the occasion around which I now want to talk about it is a far more fitting one. Valentine’s Day. The day that celebrates love, the day on which you’re supposed to celebrate your love, can also be the day for celebrating real love. For I haven’t seen a better movie in recent times that celebrates love, in its truest forms, like The Danish Girl.

One, loving yourself. Lili Elbe/Einar Wegenar, the real-life character that Eddie Redmayne plays, takes a while to realise s/he actually wants to be a woman, sensing this way after getting married and after regular love-making sessions with his/her wife. But once she does, she is consumed by it. She wants to be her true self, and after a while, doesn’t pay much regard to all the heartrending efforts and sacrifices her to-be ex-wife, and others, are making for her. She is only thinking about herself. Most would call her selfish. Some sensitive, thinking souls would say she truly loves him/herself.

A distressed-looking Alicia Vikander in a scene from 'The Danish Girl'

Two, loving the other without any expectations, not just of reciprocity but even of gratitude. Gerda, Einar’s wife, is anguished when she comes to know of Einar’s inner desire, and takes her time to make torturous peace with it. But when she realizes this is what Lili truly wants, she switches over to her side. At the doctor’s, where they’ve gone to find out about the gender-realignment operation, when Lili states, “Inside, I believe I’m a woman”, Gerda immediately affirms, “I think so too.”

Love the self. Love the other selflessly. Maybe Valentine’s Day should celebrate these loves too.

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