Volume 94, Issue 43

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000


MC makes noise up North - Choclair still keeping it real

Mastermind goes Street Legal

Billy Elliot shows off fancy steps

Original man in black

Billy Elliot shows off fancy steps

Photo by Giles Keyte
KEEP YOUR FRIGGIN HANDS OFF MY SLIPPERS. Jamie Bell defends his twinkle-toes in the inspiring new film Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot
Starring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

By Joanna Mansfield
Gazette Writer

Bold, electrical and inspiring, are words that translate the experience of watching the film Billy Elliot into words.

While proposing the clash between two contending forces – creative urges and the constraints imposed by society – Billy Elliot is a successful, crowd-pleasing fantasy.

The movie takes place during the 1984 miner's strike in Durham, England. A young and innocent boy, Billy (Jamie Bell), swaps his boxing gloves for ballet slippers from chain-smoking dancing teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (played by Golden Globe winner Julie Walters).

With both his father (Gary Lewis) and brother (Jamie Draven) as miners, Billy's character growth and artistical blossoming is nourished by his relationship with Mrs. Wilkinson, who discovers his dancing talent and neglects her own child, while putting all her hopes and dreams into helping Billy achieve his full potential.

While the film seems lighthearted and spirited on the surface, it attacks the helmet of expectation society straps onto young minds. The molding force of society is also seen in Mr. Elliot, who gives Billy the boxing gloves that were passed on to him by own his father.

Stereotypes are challenged, including those between social classes and sexual orientations. A literal and figurative brick wall, separating both Billy and his tight-knit community from the outside world, is gradually chiseled away with the growth of each character.

The film not only centres around Billy's professional dancing debut, but is also Jamie Bell's first lead film role and Stephen Daldry's directorial debut.

The cinematography techniques enhance the mood and message of the film. For example, when Billy is constrained inside the town, Daldry shoots in narrow frames and dull colors. This is juxtaposed by the wide angles, the shots of the bright, blue sky and the use of mirrors when Billy allows his talents to break free.

The tragedy of repressing one's potential and true feelings is what gives this film a 'carpe diem' flavour. Those characters who never reached their full potential help others to realize and achieve their own, which is what makes the film such a parable. Billy Elliot successfully entices the audience to embark on a journey of self-discovery. It identifies the molding helmet of society and at the very least, initiates conversation about releasing its clamp.

With a dab of humour here and there, Billy Elliot is truly an energizing experience.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000