The year is 1984. Eleven-year-old Billy lives in a poor and white-dominated working class society in the northeastern part of England. He lives together with his father Jack, older brother Tony and his senile grandmother. It is miner’s strike and the father having major issues supporting the family. Despite that he pays for Billy’s boxing class. The local ballet class shares the same facilities as the boxing group and one day Billy becomes curious. The ballet teacher challenge Billy to take part of the class and she discovers his talent.
Billy avoid telling his father about the ballet class because it will make him upset. It is a movie about a young person’s courage to question the rules of society and the bravery to stand out. Billy is born into a working class family where the men since generations been working in the miners. The work as miners has always been a natural part of their macho identity. This identity threatening when major parts of cole mines all over Britain needs to shut down. The society they live in is a man-dominated and the women’s is almost non-existed.
The ballet class is allowed to use one corner of the boxing studio, like an parenthesis. Britain’s conservative thought shines through the movie characters standpoints and the way of living. Comments like “only gays dance ? give examples of how the conservative thinking characterize contemporary Britain. The author of Contemporary Britain describe Britain as a white-dominated society where the citizen lives close to their neighbors cause of the high level of inhabitants. McCormick, 2007: 48) The movie reflects what McCormick describes well. Views from Billy’s hometown are showed in the movie several times. We may behold densely build-up homes where the families live close to each other. Billy Elliot is a fictitious story that partly been inspired by real stories and persons. The scriptwriter Lee Hall has used some of his own experiences and memories from his growth in Newcastle during the miners strike in the 80th. The fact that he got inspired from his own experiences gives the story a fair impression.
The director Stephen Daldry has succeeded to highlight the contrast of the miner’s reality and how Billy defies the old fashioned England’s gender perspective in order to pursue his dream. “It was once typical for people to be born, to live, to work and to die in the same city, town or village, witch would likely have been where their parents and grandparents before them had lived. ? (McCormick, 2007: 51) The poor working class society as the movie portrait reflects the picture I get of Britain in Contemporary Britain.
In the scene where Billy and his father are on their way to the audition at The Royal Ballet school, the father tells Billy he has never traveled farther than to the next village. When Billy asks why he has never been to London, the father replies “Well, there is no mines in London. ? He is born into the working society’s suburban’s, where he shall live and die. Contemporary Britain describes how Britain these days has a complex society system where it is hard to generalize the classes. (McCormick, 2007: 64) On the other hand I believe the movie expresses the differences between classes in society.
Mrs. Wilkinson works as a dance teacher in Everington and becomes Billy’s teacher. She represents the British middle class during that period of time. She lives in a more respectable part of town with her family, while the Elliot’s lives in a working class neighborhood. It is easy to tell the differences between the two classes. I can tell from their different environments but also from their different conditions in life like for example the economical opportunities. Billy is born into a mine working family and is expected to follow the family tradition.
Mr. s Wilkinson has on the other hand more opportunities in her life. She smokes, drives her own car and decides her own life “ even though it is not accepted by the society at the time. At this time of period the women’s are expected to take care of their duties in the kitchen and nothing else. Mrs. Wilkinson seems to be aware of the differences between her and Billy when speaking of classes, but probably not aware of the limitations that comes with being born into a lower class then herself.
The differences between the two are a major theme throughout the entire movie and reflect how life was in England during this time of period. Billy and Mrs. Wilkinson’s different classes bring different conditions in their lives. Billy is born into a role hard to change, while Mrs. Wilkinson has the opportunity to decide for herself. The director manages to picture the reality in a convincing way and their both lifestyles are highlighted. Billy Elliot and Contemporary Britain portraits the former Britain in equal way, as well the environment as the conservative society.
Billy Elliot movie