Billy Elliot is a 2000 British dance drama film written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry. Set in north-eastern England during the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike, it stars Jamie Bell as 11-year-old Billy, an aspiring dancer dealing with the negative stereotype of the male ballet dancer, Gary Lewis as his coal miner father, Jamie Draven as Billy’s older brother, and Julie Walters as his ballet teacher.
In 2001, author Melvin Burgess was commissioned to write the novelisation of the film based on Lee Hall’s screenplay. The story was adapted for the West End stage as Billy Elliot the Musical in 2005; it opened in Australia in 2007 and on Broadway in 2008.
The film is set in the fictional County Durham mining town of Everington during the 1984-85 UK miners’ strike, and centres on the character of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, his love of dance, and his hopes of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Billy lives with his widowed father, Jackie, and older brother, Tony, both coal miners out on strike (the latter being the union leader), and also his maternal grandmother, who probably has Alzheimer’s disease and once aspired to be a professional dancer. Billy’s mother, Jenny, died on 2 December 1983, aged 38.
Billy’s father sends him to the gym to learn boxing, but Billy dislikes the sport. He happens upon a ballet class that is using the gym while their usual basement studio is temporarily being used as a soup kitchen for the striking miners. Unknown to Jackie, Billy joins the ballet class. When Jackie discovers this, he forbids Billy to take any more ballet. But, passionate about dancing, Billy secretly continues lessons with his dance teacher Sandra Wilkinson’s help.
Mrs. Wilkinson believes Billy is talented enough to study at the Royal Ballet School in London, but due to Tony’s arrest during a skirmish between police and striking miners, Billy misses the audition. Mrs Wilkinson tells Jackie about the missed opportunity, but fearing that Billy will be considered to be gay, both Jackie and Tony are outraged at the prospect of Billy becoming a professional ballet dancer.
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