“The Danish Girl:
A Tale of Love and Individuation”
Movie & Discussion

Danila Crespi, M.A., LMHC &
Scott Feaster, Ph.D

MARCH 2017

The Danish Girl

Teresa Oster MSW, MS, CJSSF board member

CJSSF:  The Center for Jungian Studies is going to be offering the viewing of the film The Danish Girl that the two of you are going to be presenting. Would you comment on your subtitle for the film, “A Tale of Love and Individuation”?

CRESPI: Love is a very important word here. In any life, in individuation, the presence or absence of love makes an immense difference. Lily asks her wife, Gerda, toward the end of the film, “How could I deserve such love?”

I don’t want this to become a discussion on transgender issues. Honestly, I don’t know enough. It’s a mystery and difficult for us to imagine. The most striking aspect of the film is the individuation. The sense of being whole, of being complete, is one definition of the Jungian concept of individuation. Yes, the film is about someone who transitions to another gender but there is something universal about her becoming herself. The actor, Eddie Redmayne, gets into the Lily character so beautifully that he is the doorway for the audience into the individuation process. He removes the problem of how we would feel during this transformation. The art of the film is that he makes the transformation accessible. It’s like a miracle of performing. He gets us close to understanding. The emergence of the woman, the way the actor portrays this, I think is admirable in the subtlety and the depth. And the actress Alicia Vikander won an Oscar for best-supporting actress

FEASTER:  Alicia embodies so much the theme of love and support for her husband with that performance.


CJSSF: Why did Lily stop painting after she became a woman?

CRESPI: Lily was so adamant about being Lily and not Einar. And Einar was the painter. She said, after the transition, “I am completely myself.”


CJSSF: In your description, you mention Jung’s 1925 essay, “Marriage as a Psychological Relationship.”  How does the essay relate to the film?

FEASTER:  Jung reflected in an essay on marriage that it is not just a contract but also an opportunity to grow psychologically, and we as an audience can reflect on this through cinema. A lot of people don’t read Jung anymore or know this story but we can watch a movie. Gerda and Lily/Einar depict the opposites, the container and the contained.

CRESPI: One wanted to stay, and the other needed to go out.

FEASTER:  Jung says that the one who stays is forced to find one’s other half in oneself, and the one who goes out has the guilt. He wrote the essay on the subject of marriage around the same time as this story. Jung and his wife Emma were struggling with individuating in their own marriage, and that was unusual for that time.

CRESPI: We forget that not long ago divorce was illegal. This story happened in Copenhagen in 1926, a city that was rigid at the time and not open to what the Bohemian world might accept. The fact that the story is about someone born in Copenhagen in those days speaks to the lack of freedom that Einar confronted at that time, the lack of freedom to individuate.

FEASTER: Einar and Gerda went to Paris where the atmosphere was so open that they could bloom. There has to be a certain chemical vessel containing a certain ambiance that allows you to grow. We can look at this film from the point of our freedoms. Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina, which was about her husband trying to destroy her when she wanted a divorce. It’s important for people to see that we are freer now. But many people today get divorced and try to find someone else instead of working through, instead of legitimate suffering. The director of this film, Tom Hooper, has great empathy for people who are suffering to individuate, especially within the marriage. You can see it in his other films, like The King’s Speech and the John Adams series on TV. Love is the transforming element. Hooper is known for adapting written works and stressing the relational parts of the story in a film. Hooper is drawn to unusual situations of suffering people who are trying to bring out more of who they really are.


CJSSF: Jung writes about androgyny.  Does that apply to this film?

CRESPI: My personal view is that the human species is evolving in the direction of androgyny, the union of opposites. But I don’t have a heavy theory. Transgender is a liberalization of a fantasy. But what is happening at the level of biology? I would like to know more about chromosomes.


CJSSF: What do you mean by collective evolution in your description?  

CRESPI: As individuals evolve this translates into collective evolution. At the time of this story, the transgender experience was completely out of the radar of the collective. But today we have Supreme Court rulings supporting same sex marriage. That speaks of evolution.

FEASTER: And It can happen in the cinema, not by propaganda but by the emotional experience. A film can contribute to the collective consciousness.  Cinema is one of the vehicles, because it employs the imagination.


CJSSF: This event is being held in an actual theater, Cinema Paradisio in Ft. Lauderdale. Does that make a difference?

CRESPI: Oh, yes. Film is a form of storytelling, but the story is told with light and images. Those images are strengthened or emphasized with light. Cinematography is like painting with light. It is extremely important, the place and the environment where you watch. I am thrilled that we are going to be in a movie theater. This is going to be more of a film forum than a workshop or a lecture. We will begin with a conversation between Scott and myself. Then we will open the dialogue to the audience.

Danila Crespi M.Psy., LMHC is a Jungian senior analyst, member of the IAAP and the IRSJA. She has a private practice in Miami Beach where she can work in English, Spanish, Italian, and French. Danila was born in Italy, educated in France, and lived in several Latin American countries – mainly Venezuela where her children were born. She has lived in the United States since 2001.

Scott Feaster Ph.D. has his doctorate in Comparative Arts, the domain of architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. Out of this background, he has taught English and film for three decades at Broward College. He has authored two books on film and Jung and one on Shakespeare and Jung.



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Center for Jungian Studies
c/o Richard Chappell
20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529

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As a Not-For-Profit organization we exist because of the generosity of our friends, volunteers and donors. None of the work that we do would be possible without you.