By Andrea Karen Hammer
Billy Elliot, a dance film with still relevant themes about fair wages and safe working conditions for miners and other workers, continues to inspire grit and determination. Following the struggles of a working-class family in County Durham, England, the story focuses on standing up for one’s rights even when confronted with challenging conditions.
The younger son, Billy (played by the exuberant Jamie Bell), aspires to become a ballet dancer and break free of conventional expectations. Older son Tony (who Jamie Draven infuses with intensity) fights for miners’ rights, resulting in riots and clashes with his downtrodden father (layered with complexity through Gary Lewis’s skills).
Father’s Confusion and Frustration With Sons’ Choices Results in Friction–and Growth
The father, who is trying to hang onto his mining job, simply wants to keep his head above water after losing his wife. The movie excels at revealing his honest confusion–and frustration-with his sons’ choices, along with the resulting friction.
Despite his father’s rejection and embarrassment about Billy’s desire to dance, Jamie Bell energizes Billy with a mix of rage and burning desire, which are redirected to achieve his goals. Watching Jamie Bell perform fierce dance sequences up and down steep streets is absolutely jaw dropping.
Edgy but Compassionate Teacher: Importance and Power of Advocates in Children’s Lives
As Billy’s dance teacher, Julie Walters simultaneously conveys edginess and compassion in her role as the young boy’s prickly ally and motivator. Reminding viewers about the importance and power of advocates in children’s lives, Julie Walters‘ presence as a supportive teacher and distantly surrogate mother ultimately change the course of Billy’s life.
With uplifting scenes following father and son traveling to Billy’s audition at a leading dance school, the film builds further strength as the characters grow and change. The talented actors deserve high praise for honestly revealing the flaws and limitations as well as the gifts of real people and families working to understand, support and accept each other.
The compelling storylines in Billy Elliot eerily reflect variations of current news stories, making this dance film an important one to revisit for countless reasons.
Your Thoughts and Comments About Films Revealing Grit and Determination
How did each of the characters in Billy Elliot reveal grit and determination? What other films address this theme or inspire those qualities?