The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Billy Elliott. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Billy Casper is a misfit. He does things differently to everyone else, he is smaller than most of his classmates and he has an unusual passion. The director of the film not only uses acting to show how Billy’s loneliness, but also wide panoramic shots and other camera work. In many scenes, we see Billy, a small, desolate figure in a mass of green.
Often, these shots have the mine in the background. The juxtaposition of the mine against the beautiful countryside further conveys the mood.
The industry is eating away at the fields, and in the same way the lifestyle of the miners and the expectation of Billy becoming a miner is eating away at him. Another juxtaposition that the director uses is when Jud is going down into the mine.
He puts children singing a hymn as the music, and then fades up to the assembly scene. This is good use of editing techniques because he gets the feeling of being sucked down into the mine. As one Jud goes down, he feels all his happiness go out of him, and the fade up to the children illustrates the sucking motion of the mine – comparable to a black hole.
There are also scenes in the film when Billy is in the woods. In these scenes, he walks slowly and the music is calm and soothing – a flute playing over strings.
When Billy is in the woods he is at ease. In comparison to this, when Billy is on the estate or at school, there are loud background noises and we often see Billy running. In the woods there is no one telling him what to do, no one to pick on him or bully him, whereas on the estate he is often doing some sort of job or errand for someone. Another reason that Billy doesn’t want to become a miner is that he wants to escape from his world.
He is picked on at home and at school, constantly being told that he is stupid and no good. Kes is the only thing that he has a great passion for, and she symbolises everything that Billy wants: freedom. Freedom to go where he chooses and to do what he likes. We see shots of Kes flying above Billy, and in the background we can see Barnsley. Kes is flying way above the mine and she doesn’t have a care in the world. Billy says “It’s wild and it’s free and it’s not bothered about anybody,” which is the attitude that Billy adopts to some extent.
Billy understands the hawk, but the hawk is not just a bird to Billy, it is the culmination of all his hopes. Billy shows no desire to be outstanding at anything, he only says that he won’t be a miner. The hawk flies above the mine. The mine is deep in the ground, and Billy wants to get as far away from it as possible. When the hawk is dead, Billy has to bury it. This represents the crushing of Billy’s hope not to become a miner. He has to submit to society, and go to work down the pit. In ‘Billy Elliott’ there is no pressure on Billy to decide what he wants to do in the future.
At home, Jacky and Tony are on strike because the government has decided that it is uneconomical to keep the mines open because it is cheaper to import coal. Billy presumes that he will become a miner, and has no objections to it. The only time he discusses mining is when he asks Michael if he thinks it would be better to be a miner or a ballet dancer. Jacky and Tony being on strike means that there is little money coming into the house. They have been on strike for about a year, making no headway. However, they remain on strike because they have not been trained for anything else. Many of the older miners will never work again.
The time is about nineteen eighty-five. The largest police force ever has been assembled to deal with the strikers, and make sure things don’t get out of hand, which, of course, they do. Some miners crossed the picket line and were known as ‘scabs’. Scabs were hated by the striking miners because they have broken the first rule of the union – never cross a picket line. The striking miners struggled to keep themselves warm and fed: the most extreme example of this is when Jacky has to smash up his wife’s piano for firewood. This is a very hard thing for him to do because it was one of his wife’s favourite things.
When Jacky hears about Billy’s dancing, he tries to go back to work. This is the ultimate sacrifice that Jacky could have made for Billy, and he cannot handle it. He breaks down in the coach park and Tony, who didn’t know Jacky was going back, has to come and take him home. Because of the closure of the mines, it was unlikely that Billy was ever going to become a miner, so he doesn’t have the anticipation of leaving school and going straight down the pit, like Billy Casper does. His world is changing, it is effectively the end of an era – the demise of the working class.
A forced change is coming about Billy manages to escape the misery of the miners through his dancing. Everything that Jacky and Tony have ever known is changing, and Jacky allows Billy to be different. At first he finds it hard to do this, but after seeing him dance, he says to Tony “He could be a genius for all that we know. ” When he is asked by the man in the audition room if he supports Billy, he says “Yes, of course,” and there isn’t the slightest bit of doubt in his voice. Because Billy is accepted by his family, he finds it easier to accept things in the world around him.
For example, when he finds out that his friend Michael is homosexual, he doesn’t tease him or stop talking to him, but accepts him for who he is. He makes jokes about it with Michael, but is never harsh or cruel. The director of ‘Billy Elliott’ uses the mine less as a visual aid than the director of ‘Kes’. He does however use a similar technique to the assembly, when Billy is at a ballet class. He cuts this with scenes of the miners striking and then back to the lesson, with the mingled sounds of the miners shouting and the piano. This is meaningful because it shows that there is such a great difference so close together.
We know that there is goi Mining is more a symbol of change in ‘Billy Elliott’ than anything else. Billy is moving on to new things, and he will experience things that none of his family or the community have ever experienced. In the same way, the miner’s lives are about to be changed forever. When Billy is sitting by Jacky in the fields, he says that he is scared, and Jacky says “That’s ok, son, we’re all scared. ” Everyone who is affected by the mining will have a change life. In contrast to this, Mrs Wilkinson’s life won’t change. For her Billy is leaving, which is sad, but her life will move on.
She isn’t going to lose her job, she has to keep going the same way as she always has. Mrs Wilkinson is a contrast to the ‘feel good’ factor of the film. There are certain characters and moments in the film that stand out because they challenge the mood of the film, for example Jacky smashing his wife’s piano, and I believe that the matter of mining is clearer in ‘Kes’ than it is in ‘Billy Elliott’. I say this because in ‘Billy Elliott’, it is somehow unresolved. We know that the miners go back to work – we see them going back, but what we don’t know is what happened to them when the mines closed.
All we see are Jacky and Tony going to see Billy in his production of ‘Swan Lake’. The central theme of the film is Billy, but I think that the film could possibly be even stronger if it showed more of a definite ending to the mines. However, having said this, the film explores wider, more challenging issues than ‘Kes’, for example the issue of homosexuality in Michael. It would have been hard to portray these issues when ‘Kes’ was made in the 1960s, but I think that it makes ‘Billy Elliott’ a more outstanding film.