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Soundtrack review: The Danish girl (Alexandre Desplat – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Danish girl (Alexandre Desplat – 2015)


“The Danish Girl” is a 2015 British-American pseudo-biographical drama film directed by Tom Hooper, based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener, along with Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil and Ben Whishaw as Henrik. The movie chronicles The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. Since it will probably be an award magnet, it’s obligatory that the score is written by Alexandre Desplat.

Usually there are very few surprises in a Desplat score, at least for me. I’ve listened to almost all of them and with few exceptions I get the same thing every time. Sometimes his quiet and extraordinarily melodic musings charm me, as fortunately is the case with the main theme of “The Danish girl”. I won’t mention what happens other times when I listen to his music because this score started so nice and because I seem to be in the right mood to fully enjoy it. I know it’s the same sound I sometimes find generic and repetitive but something in the extra shade of string sadness that’s added to the piano in “Lily’s dream” gets to me and quiets all my doubts. I can go as far as saying that this particular theme makes me think of James Newton Howard’s musical sensitivity.

I know the feeling won’t last for the duration of the score but such a beautiful start to the album will make me understand better and connect better with what’s next. It’s so obvious how much of a subjective experience listening to film music is for me and how much it depends on the mood I am in… I happen to listen to “The Danish girl” on a reflective morning when I don’t need more from the music in my ears than to support this state of mind. Alexandre Desplat is brilliant at creating music that doesn’t grab or move but just fades perfectly into the background of the movie or, in this case, of my mood. It’s part of the fabric of what I’m feeling right now as I am writing this and it’s a very strange sensation because I feel as if the music has always been there and I’m merely bringing it to surface now.

Or maybe it’s just that for this score, Alexandre Desplat brought some clouds over his usually sunny sound and the shade is enough to show me what I’ve always wanted to see. Maybe the effervescence in “The mirror” reminds me of something… either way, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to a Desplat score with such pleasure. “The Danish girl” was quite the nice surprise for me.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 59

Album excellence: 52%


The Danish Girl

Lily’s Dream



The Mirror

Einar Returns Home

To Dresden


Gerda In The Rain


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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