Billy Elliot Family

Describe at least ONE idea that was worth learning about in the text(s). Explain why the idea was worth learning about in the text(s) as a whole, using examples of visual and/or oral language features to support your ideas. The film Billy Elliot directed by Stephen Daldry, is set in the miners town of Durham in the north east of Engand in the 1980’s. The film focuses on Billy Elliot, a 12 year old boy who is pressured and abused by his violent family as he tries to pursue his love of dancing in a predominantly miners town where ballet is for girls.
An idea I felt was worth learning about tin the film was the idea of family relations. I believe this idea was worth learning about because it showed me why Jackie and Billy held such disdain for Billy’s ballet, Billy’s feelings as a result of his families pressure and that family bonds can overcome great adversity. Throughout the film, Daldry uses a range of film techniques to portray this idea of family relations. The first reason why the idea of family relations was worth learning about was because it showed me why Billy and Jackie held such disdain for Billy’s ballet.
Throughout the film, Billy and Jackie represent the major obstacle Billy has to overcome to pursue his love of ballet. Following the recent death of Tony and Billy’ mother (Jackie’s wife) everyone in the family is wrought with grief. Adding to this is the intensity of the miner’s strike going on in the town which Jackie and Tony are involved in. In this tense home environment, the last thing they wanted was their son to be doing ballet, especially in the highly stereotypical society they lived in where ballet dancers are labeled as ‘poofs’. The main reason Tony and Jackie hated ballet so much, was because it reflects badly on the family.

Tony and Jackie are great fans of boxing and push Billy towards it, even though he is blatantly useless at boxing. With the high pressure of the time they are in, Billy’s doing ballet is the last straw and Jackie and tony are furious. An example from the film to show Jackie and Tony’s opposition to ballet is the dialogue when Jackie says to Billy: “Ballet is for girls Billy. Boys do things like boxing or wrestling, not friggin’ ballet! ” The patronizing tone Jackie uses and the incredulousness in his voice shows his obvious disdain for Billy. Another example from the film to show Jackie’s hate of ballet is hen he sees Billy in the ballet class for the first time. The background sound of the piano playing cuts out, creating a suspenseful environment, and the close up shot of Jackie’s red, manic face shows his rage at Billy doing ballet. The curt dialogue, “You! Out! ,” seals the deal showing there is no hope in Jackie’s eyes for Billy to continue participating in ballet classes. The idea of family relations showed me that Jackie and Tony held such disdain for Billy’s ballet under the high pressure circumstances they were in, and they didn’t want their families reputation to be tarnished by having a ‘poof’ in the family.
The second reason why the idea of family relations was worth learning about was because it showed me Billy’s feelings as a result of his family’s pressure. Ever since he first see’s Miss Wilkinson’s ballet class dancing in the boxing gym, he is hooked on ballet as it is a way for him to express his natural love of dancing. He secretly trains with the class by telling his family he is attending the boxing classes. However, when Jackie sees him, his ballet classes are in jeopardy as his family is strongly against him training.
But Billy continues to train secretly with private lessons with Miss Wilkinson. The first feeling I was shown as a result of his families pressure Billy’s love of ballet and dancing. Billy’s perseverance under his family’s pressure to continue with ballet throughout the film showed me Billy loved ballet so much he was willing to stand up to his violent family. An example of Billy’s love of ballet is the close up shot of his face after he nails his first pirouette. His face shows a wide grinning smile, showing his happiness at succeeding at ballet.
While scene is going on, there is a crosscut to a montage of Billy In his bathroom practicing pirouettes. This showed his commitment to ballet. Throughout the film, there are also many symbols to show Billy is ‘caged in’ by his family and he wants to break free from their traditions and do what he loves. An example of this is when Billy’s father first sees him doing ballet. Jackie is on the outside of the cage and Billy on the inside, symbolizing that Billy is trapped by his family’s traditions.
Another example is that the scenes of the mining village were shot in a tight-knit claustrophobic way to show that Billy was again trapped by the traditions of the town and was claustrophobic, when Billy is dancing however, the shot widens up to show that when Billy is dancing he is free from his families pressure and expectations. The idea of family relations showed me that through his family’s pressure and traditions, Billy’s love of dancing was very great by the way he continued on with it despite his violent family, and that he felt caged in and claustrophobic by the miners town.
The final reason why the idea of family relations was worth learning about was that it showed me that family bonds can overcome great obstacles. Early on in the film, Jacke and Tony are strongly against Billy continuing with ballet. This is symbolized by dialogue such as: “Ballet is for girls Billy,” and close up shots are used showing Tony and Jackie’s faces showing anger and frustration when the conversation concerns ballet. This changes when Jackie sees Billy dance for the first time.
He is moved by Billy’s passion and talent for dancing. In this scene, defiant music is played while Billy dances for Jackie showing he is finally standing up to Jackie. From here on in the film, Jackie starts to support Billy in his dancing by attempting to go back to the mines and selling his wife’s jewellery, which is very special to him. This change was very significant to me, as it showed that family bonds and the love in families could overcome obstacles, financial and social, as great ad the ones the Elliot family overcome.
An example of the change in the Elliot family is that at the beginning of the film, Tony and Jackie are often portrayed by low angle shots when their behavior is threatening to Billy showing they are dominant, but towards the end of the film they are portrayed in mid-shots when talking to Billy to show equality between the family members. An example of this is when Jackie is talking to Billy in the meadow. This idea of family relations showed me that family bonds could overcome great obstacles and that family love is unconditional, despite the harsh circumstances.
In conclusion, the film Billy Elliot by Stephen Daldry focuses on Billy as he tries to pursue his love of ballet despite the pressure of his family and their traditions. The idea of family relations in the film helped me to understand why Billys family was so against ballet, what Billy’s feelings were throughout the film and how family bonds can overcome great obstacles. Throughout the film, Daldry uses a range of film techniques to portray Tony and Jackie’s obvious disdain for ballet, Billy’s love of ballet and the tumultuous time the Elliot family is going throughout following the death of Jackie’s wife and the miners strikes.

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