The work of cinematography I am going to analyze is called “Billy Elliot”. The film is about a boy who wants to become a ballet dancer. He meets his father’s and brother’s opposition; he has no person to support him except his grandmother. The dance teacher recognizes his talent and agrees to teach him for free. The action of the story described in the film takes place in an English miner’s town in the early 1980s amid a strike, when the son of one of the miners appears to be a talented ballet dancer.
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The story happens in the family whose members are Billy, his father, his brother, and his grandmother, “the only one who might understand the passion he embraces” (Bila-Gunther 1). The boy appears in the ballet school by chance and seems to be happy; now instead of practicing boxing he is engaged in the action that makes him feel comfortable. Thus he gets a chance, a wonderful opportunity to express himself and to show everyone what he wants to be. First of all he wants his family to be aware of his passion, but the male part of it does not seem to hail this great news. Thereby we can observe one of the most widespread conflicts described in movies, the conflicts which arise from the generation gap, from the family problems of parenting and upbringing.
The film raises certain number of problems, as it describes some themes that are extremely thought-provoking and are contradictory. Thus the first and, apparently, the most obvious problem is represented by the conflict between the father and the son who is dreaming of dancing. Here the conflict consists not only of the father’s refusal to see his son in ballet shoes but also in Billy’s refusal to follow his father’s way. Here we can see the generation gap when the parents do not understand the natural needs of their children.
Thereby, Billy would never agree to go down the mines, “a job for which he appears to be both physically and temperamentally unsuited” (Powrie 103). Besides, “Billy’s father equates male ballet dancers with homosexuality” (Ebert 66), whereas Billy does not seem to be a person with alternative sexual orientation. The only wrong thing is that his family is male-dominated, whereas Billy does not want any demonstrations of violence on behalf of his father or brother. Billy is a person who does not want to stay in the small town and do everything his father and brother do, to work in the mines.
All the conflicts of the film are closely intertwined, and finally create one big problem. The conflict between father and son involves the generation gap problems and influences Billy’s self-expression; the fact that nobody supports his decision of becoming a ballet dancer distresses him deeply because if his mother was alive she would encourage his actions and support him in the moments when he lacks self-confidence; “Lacking the feminine encouragement of his mother whom Billy misses a great deal every time he strikes the keys of the piano, his only support comes from the warm eyes of his senile grandmother” (Bila-Gunther 1).
Billy lacks some male strength, masculinity; besides, his father accuses him of homosexuality, “Billy Elliot is a sympathetic work which successfully popularizes several progressive ideas around gender roles and sexual orientation” (Powrie 104). The problem of gender change is one of the brightest in the film. Thereby Billy is one of the representatives of the male gender who possess contradictory feelings towards himself. He is confused and does not want to be accused of homosexuality by his family, and namely by his father.
There are vivid expressions of the boy’s confusion throughout the film as he is the main character and his feelings are very important for perception of the story as a whole:
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“Billy expresses his frustration through dance and physically seeks to burst out of his environment, he tapdances violently to the accompaniment of The Jam’s edgy, post-punk anthem ‘A Town Called Malice’. This emphasis upon the ‘manliness’ of Billy’s dancing is further strengthened by the film’s careful disassociation of it from the implication of homosexuality” (Powrie 105).
Thus Billy is accused of homosexuality by his father and by society as well, because there exist certain stereotypes and prejudices, it is not easy to have your own opinion and to stand for it in a biased society.
Billy seems to be a liar because he pretends to be the person he does not seem to be. It is hard for him to reveal his passion for dancing; “He keeps his dancing a secret from his male-dominated family, who spend their days picketing and running away from the policemen’s batons” (Bila-Gunther 1). But he is ready for everything to continue to take the lessons of dancing even if it can cause his father’s offense.
“Billy Elliot” as a film and as a play demonstrates a great performance represented by great talented actors. It reveals a great number of problems influencing the actions of characters. The main conflict of this film/play is the boy’s contradictory perception of himself. He is afraid of being homosexual, at the same time he is not able to give up dancing. Billy is a usual boy, and his problems are usual; the only thing that differs is the solution of the problems.
Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2003. United States of America: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2002. Web.
Powie, Phil, and Ann Davis, and Bruce Babington. The Trouble with Men: Masculinities in European and Hollywood Cinema. London: Wallflower Press, 2004. Web.
Bila-Gunther, Gaby. “Billy Elliot Review”. Anti Essays. 2009. Web.