This story shows us all the rewards of perseverance in following our own star despite parental or popular opinion. It demonstrates the redemptive agency of love in a family under enormous stress and shows a father coming through as a parent after some blatant errors. The film illuminates the tensions and sorrows of a family dealing with the loss of its wife and mother while the grandmother gently sinks into senility. (Billy lovingly takes care of his grandmother.) In this film a friendship between two boys survives the fact that one is homosexual and the other probably is not. "Billy Elliot" also illustrates the far reaching influence that a dedicated teacher can have on a child's development.
The family's struggle is set against the background of the 1984 English coal miner's strike in which the British government, determined to drastically reform the country's bloated and inefficient coal industry, crushed the miner's union, and changed English society. The film reveals the sacrifices required of striking union workers and their families, as well as the anguish of a community whose way of life is doomed in the face of new economic conditions.
Helpful Background Information
The study of classical ballet is physically rigorous, tantamount to engaging in the most grueling sports activities. Many professional athletes have been sent to ballet class to improve their balance, agility and flexibility. Dancing has the added demand that the leaps, spins, and turns are graceful and apparently effortless. Imagine basketball, baseball, football or tennis with no grunts, grimaces or spitting allowed!
The rule of thumb is that it takes eight years of training to create a professional ballet dancer, but that varies with the physical attributes of each student. In general, girls have to start studying at a younger age, preferably 6 to 9, in order to be ready to dance on pointe (in toe shoes). Serious boy students also train with weights so...
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