- How does Billy Elliot represent relationships and identity?
Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds, not words.” Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 – 1948
In the film “Billy Elliot,” Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry use Billy’s relationships with friends and family to demonstrate themes of identity and masculinity. There are three main relationships expressed in the film, between Billy and his dad, his ballet teacher and his best friends. Each connection symbolises one of three different aspects of relationship or identity. The father represents aggression, superiority, and the societal stereotypes of masculinity: virility, machismo and bravado. The ballet teacher portrays compassion, a motherly figure, and a more ethical, philosophical meaning of being a man. The friends depict moral identity, straying from societal expectations, and the effects of homosexuality on a person’s intrinsic integrity. Throughout the film parallels are drawn to the quote at the prologue to this paper. Through the evocative use of various film techniques such as lighting, camera angles and quoting, and the application of symbolism in characters and their demeanour, “Billy Elliot” explores relationships, identity, and masculinity. Billy’s relationship with his father portrays the masculinity stereotypes of bluff, bravado and machismo. A common societal stereotype of masculinity is that to be a “real man” one has to be tough, and impassive, showing no emotion. One must also participate in the more physical activities - “football, or boxing… wrestling!” Billy’s dad – Jackie – tries to impose these stereotypes on his son throughout the film. Signing him up for boxing, speaking of the miners – men who have extremely exerting, physical occupations – as if they were angels. When Billy discovers his passion for ballet, Jackie is outraged,...
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