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Billy Elliot (Dancer)

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Billy Elliot is a coming-of-age story of a young boy, Billy, who through his unexpected love of dance, embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the world of picket lines, cultural stereotypes, a family in crisis and a headstrong ballet teacher.

When 11-year-old Billy (Jamie Bell) stumbles across a local ballet class that comes to share the village hall with his boxing club, something in the magic of the movements captures his imagination, and he's soon ditching his boxing gloves to sneak in at the back of Mrs Wilkinson's (Julie Walters) lessons. With a sharp eye for talent, Mrs Wilkinson's zest for teaching is revived when she sees Billy's potential. Rather forgetting the other ballerinas, she's drawn into teaching her raw protégé.

Meanwhile, Billy's father (Gary Lewis) and older brother Tony (Jamie Draven) - both coal miners who are on strike - struggle to put food on the table. Their pent up frustrations finally explode when they discover Billy has been squandering his boxing money on less than manly pursuits. Banned from ballet, troubled by the escalating senile behaviour of his grandma (Jean Heywood), and missing his recently dead mother more than ever, Billy's relationship with school friend Michael (Stuart Wells) deepens into a touching friendship, while new pal Debbie (Nicola Blackwell), daughter of Mrs Wilkinson, awakens frightening, but not unpleasant, feelings in Billy.

Mrs Wilkinson eventually persuades Billy to accept private training for free, telling him she wants him to audition for the prestigious Royal Ballet School. The emotions released in their intensive routines nearly break both of them, but when the day of the audition comes, Billy is tragically forced to miss it as a result of his brother's scuffle with the police. Taking matters into his own hands, Mrs Wilkinson calls on Billy's father to explain the extraordinary chance his son is missing, but is thrown out by an irate Tony, much to Billy's humiliation.

Distraught by his family's lack of understanding, Billy unleashes his feelings in a dance meant only for Michael to see, but is caught mid-routine by his father. Rooted to the spot by the power and animation of his son's talent, he solemnly agrees to ensure Billy gets another chance by auditioning in London. With support from the other miners, Billy and his dad finally make it to London for the gruelling audition, returning home to anxiously await the ballet school's decision.

Theatrical propaganda posters

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Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film drama UK England dance boxing Thatcher mining strike police

Persons of interest

  • Jamie Bell ... Billy Elliot
  • Jean Heywood ... Grandma
  • Jamie Draven ... Tony Elliot
  • Gary Lewis ... Dad (Jackie Elliot)
  • Stuart Wells ... Michael Caffrey
  • Mike Elliot ... George Watson
  • Billy Fane ... Mr Braithwaite
  • Nicola Blackwell ... Debbie Wilkinson
  • Julie Walters ... Mrs Wilkinson
  • Joe Renton ... Gary Poulson
  • Colin MacLachlan ... Mr Tom Wilkinson
  • Janine Birkett ... Billy's Mum
  • Trevor Fox ... PC Jeff Peverly
  • Charlie Hardwick ... Sheila Briggs
  • Matthew Thomas ... Simon
  • Zoe Bell ... Sandra
  • Merryn Owen ... Michael (Aged 25)
  • Adam Cooper ... Billy (Aged 25)
  • Lee Hall .... Screenwriter
  • Stephen Daldry .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Jamie Bell.

I have fallen in love with Jamie Bell. Not just because he's good looking (he makes Brad Pitt look like a wallflower), not just because he acts with a heat that could melt steel and not just because he dances like an angel who's been possessed by the devil, but because despite having a script that suits him down to the ground, Jamie makes the script something that just came along so everyone else would have something to say. If you watched a film of Jamie tying his shoes you'd be spellbound.

The other actors, all of them huge talents who could fill the screen on their own, are pushed to the edge of the frame whenever Jamie is in shot. When he dances, it's like there's no-one else there at all. Even at the beginning of the film when he steps into his first ballet class - and he makes Billy look like a true beginner - Jamie is the only person you can see. The girls disappear into a cloud of tutus and leotards, mocking Julie's ever-present cloud of cigarette smoke.

Jamie Bell is the kind of guy for whom you'd not only jump the fence but grab a bag of sweeties along the way.

Ahem... the film. Um... oh, yeah. Billy Elliot is as much a documentary as it is pure fiction. The terrible and wonderful drama of Billy's life - poverty, recently deceased mother, father and brother at odds with the world, emerging sexuality and emerging talent - are enough to knock a grown man to his knees, but Billy shoulders his ever increasing burden with the stoicism that only a child can muster. As his family crumbles around him, he keeps close the bright, shining passion that is his talent for dancing. In life, as in film, that talent will out and when it does it has the power to change everyone it touches. As each person is lifted from the mire of their existence into Billy's lambent purity the troubles of their own life are put into perspective. That's the power of beauty; Billy has it in spades.

The dancing? Well, Billy Elliot isn't Centre stage by any means: this dancing is part of a journey, not eye candy for pubescent ballerinas (and ballerinos). The formal stuff at the barre is like ballet classes all around the world (even the ones I went to), but once Billy gets out onto the street it becomes a wild release for all the pent up passion inside him. He bangs and stomps and kicks against the walls that trap him in this dreary, old, moribund mining town, and against the soul-destroying life ahead of him as a miner. Jamie really does make Tap dogs seem naïve.

I want to put in a word for Stuart Wells, who plays Billy's best friend Michael. As Michael's love for Billy grows from friendship to relationship, Stuart lets that change suffuse to the surface until the longing is writ plain on his face for anyone to see. The only thing that saves him from a thorough bashing at the hands of the local homophobes is that they don't know to look. He acts the way only an unblinkered adolescent can: with raw passion.

Do you need to see this film? Oh, yes. Will you be better for it? Most definitely. Will you fall in love with Jamie Bell? You better believe it. Jamie is already nominated for Best actor with a penis while Billy Elliot is nominated for Best film. They'll be hard to beat.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Disc: Single sided, dual layer
  • Picture: Widescreen (16:9 enhanced)
  • Languages: English, German
  • Special features:
    • 21 minute Breaking free documentary
    • Production notes
    • DVD-ROM features
    • Talent profiles
    • Trailer: Movie
    • Picture disc
  • Subtitles: English, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish

Security censorship classification

M (Low level coarse language, low level violence)

Surveillance time

105 minutes (1:45 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: 9 May 2001

Cinema surveillance images

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