Billy Elliot

From Academic Kids

For other people of the same or similar names see Billy Elliot (disambiguation)

Missing image
Movie poster for Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot is a 2000 movie written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry. It stars Jamie Bell as 11 year old Billy, an aspiring dancer, Gary Lewis as his coal miner father, Jamie Draven as Billy's older brother, and Julie Walters as his dance instructor.

Tagline: Inside every one of us is a special talent waiting to come out. The trick is finding it.


Billy's mother had died when Billy was younger, and his father, an admirer of real life world boxing champion Ken Buchanan, has dreams that Billy could help the family out of their economic situation by becoming a boxer. Billy, however, is more interested in music, a passion he inherited from his late mother, and he sometimes plays her piano when he feels he needs her by his side.

Billy is taken to the boxing gym by his father, but he finds out that he doesn't really like the idea of being a boxer once he steps into the ring for the first time. One day, he discovers that part of the boxing gym is used by a ballet school. He seeks the dance instructor's help and secretly starts taking ballet class.

The plot is set against the backdrop of the 1984 miners' strike. When the Durham miners, including Billy's father and brother, go on strike, their economic situation grows worse. The family and their small town in general suffer many confrontations with the police, and Billy discovers that his best friend, Michael, is a gay cross-dresser when he confesses his orientation to Billy.

As a consequence of the riots, Billy has to miss several days of dancing school, and his teacher, not knowing that Billy kept the classes secret from his family, goes to his house and tells his father that he had missed an important audition for the Royal Ballet School. Upon finding out about Billy taking ballet class, Billy's father and brother become enraged and start expressing some views that could be interpreted as both machista and homophobic. But Billy proves to be determined and keeps on dancing on every chance he gets.

Billy's own sexual orientation is never defined in the movie and it is one of the film's more subtle points that his sexuality remains ambiguous to the end. During the film Billy has intimate moments both with his best friend Michael, and his ballet teacher's daughter, Debbie. Both Michael and Debbie express disappointment that Billy might leave them to pursue his dancing. At this point Billy thinks aloud, "which is better, Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire?" This is the closest we come to an explicit recognition that Billy is trying to figure out his own sexuality.

Having seen Billy dance for the first time, his father realises that dancing might be his son's future, and he decides to take him to an audition in London himself. Billy has never been far from his home town, and he and his father are awestruck by the size of London. Billy starts a fight with a boy from a rich background, but is accepted by the ballet school on the strength of his commitment to dancing.

The movie concludes with a scene that takes place in the future, where his father and brother are sitting at the ballet concert waiting for Billy's performance to begin. They find themselves sitting next to a "lady," but they can't recognize her. It turned out to be Michael, who is there with his boyfriend and dressed as a woman, to see Billy perform in Swan Lake. The film ends as he takes the stage.

Many have suggested that this movie is another attempt to try to help people see others with different views as equal.

In 2004 the magazine Total Film named Billy Elliot the 39th greatest British film of all time.

Stephen Daltry's stage production of "Billy Elliot - the Musical" in May 2005 at the Victoria Palace, London, was described in "The Telegraph" as "the greatest British musical".

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