Billy Elliot

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This article is about the film. For the musical, see Billy Elliot the Musical. For other uses, see Billy Elliot (disambiguation).
Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Produced by Greg Brenman
Jon Finn
Written by Lee Hall
Story by Lee Hall
Starring Jamie Bell
Julie Walters
Gary Lewis
Jamie Draven
Music by Stephen Warbeck
Cinematography Brian Tufano
Edited by John Wilson
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Focus Features
Release dates
  • 29 September 2000 (2000-09-29)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £3 million ($5 million)
Box office £72,853,509 ($109,280,263)

Billy Elliot is a 2000 British dance drama film produced by Greg Brenman and Jon Finn, music composed by Stephen Warbeck, distributed by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry.[2][3] The film is 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.

Plot[edit]

The film is set in the fictional County Durham mining town of Everington Village 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.

Over Christmas, Billy learns his best friend, Michael, is gay. Although Billy is not, he is supportive of his friend. Later, Jackie catches Billy dancing in the gym and realises his son is truly gifted; he will do whatever it takes to help Billy attain his dream. Mrs Wilkinson tries to persuade Jackie to let her pay for the audition, but he replies that Billy is his son and he does not need charity. Jackie attempts to cross the picket line to pay for the trip to London, but Tony blocks him. Instead, his fellow miners and the neighbourhood raise some money and Jackie pawns Billy's mother's jewellery to cover the cost, and Jackie takes him to London to audition for the Royal Ballet School. Although very nervous, Billy performs well, but he punches another boy in his frustration at the audition and the fear that he has ruined his chances of attaining his dream. He is sternly rebuked by the review board, but when asked what it feels like when he is dancing, he describes it as being like electricity. Seemingly rejected, Billy returns home with his father. Sometime later, he receives confirmation that he has been accepted by the Royal Ballet School, and he leaves home to attend.

The film's final scene is set fourteen years later (approximately 1999): the mature Billy takes the stage to perform the lead in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, as Jackie, Tony, and Michael watch from the audience.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Lee Hall developed Billy Elliot from his play Dancer, which premiered as a rehearsed reading in 1998 at the Live Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne.[4] He was heavily influenced by photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen's book Step by Step, about a dancing school in nearby North Shields. Writing in 2009, Hall said that "almost every frame of Billy Elliot was influenced by Step by Step ... as every member of the design team carried around their own copy."[5]

Filming[edit]

Just short of the patch of grass where Andrew and Alnwick Streets once stood. The street in view is Avon Street.

Due to Easington Colliery's pit closure in 1993,[6] the mining scenes were filmed at the Ellington and Lynemouth Colliery in Northumberland,[7] with some filming in Dawdon and Newcastle upon Tyne.[7]

Scenes inside the Elliot home and local street shots were filmed in Easington Colliery, with the producers using over 400 locals as extras.[7] Alnwick Street, on which the Elliot family lived at number 5, was one of several streets demolished in 2003 after becoming derelict.[8][9] Michael lived at the corresponding number across the alley on the also-demolished Andrew Street. A green space now stands in their place.

Avon Street, which is still intact, is shown when the postman walks up to the front of the Elliot residence. The faded white-brick wall of Wright's Prize Bingo, on Ashton Street, is also still visible.

Almost all of the scenes set in Everington were filmed at the top of the sizable slope that is visible in the street views, near the allotments on Tower Street that still remain today. It is down Tower Street that Billy is seen dancing with his ballet shoes around his neck. He then turns right to go behind the Anthony Street terraces, looking down the hill to Ashton Street, on what is now Gardener and Leech Courts, with Bede Street rising up on the other side. The rear of Anthony Street is also used in the scene in which Billy steals a ballet book from the mobile library van. After a dance class, Mrs Wilkinson drops Billy off at a vacant lot of land at the top of Angus Street.

There are three scenes filmed at the southern end of the terraces: when Debbie is dragging the stick along the walls (and police shields) on Ashton Street at the ends of Avon Street, firstly, and then Alnwick Street. Billy then crosses Ashton Street en route to Seaside Lane. The same crossing is made by Billy, Jackie and Tony when they take Billy to the bus station. Mrs Wilkinson parks on Ashton Street, at the bottom of Alnwick Street, when she pays the Elliots a visit.

The Rialto, a former cinema on Oswald Terrace, is shown briefly in the movie. It is now the only surviving cinema building in the town, although it has now been taken over by a carpet superstore. Part of the original façade, which Billy walks by, is still visible, however. It ceased being a cinema in the mid-1970s. It is in the alley behind Oswald Terrace that the Christmas scene featuring Billy and Michael is shot. Fake snow is used to cover the scene.[10] The rear of the Rialto doubles as that of Everington Boys' Club, where Billy attends boxing and dance practices. The interior shots were filmed on the top floor of Hanwell Community Centre in London.

The Miners' Welfare Hall is in nearby Dawdon, as is Embleton Street, up which Billy does his "angry dance". While made to seem like it is the same street, the corrugated iron wall at which he comes to a stop is at the end of the alley between Embleton Street and Stavordale Street West. The structure was a temporary installment to hide Shrewsbury Street behind it. The cemetery in which Jenny Elliot is buried is in Lynemouth.[11]

School scenes were filmed in Langley Park Primary School, County Durham. It is on the nearby Lanchester Valley Railway Path that Billy and Michael are seen during their school's cross country run.

Release[edit]

Billy Elliot advert on a lorry in London

Theatre[edit]

Billy Elliot was theatrically released on 29 September 2000 by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

Home media[edit]

Billy Elliot was released on DVD, Blu-ray and VHS on 25 October 2001 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Reception[edit]

The film holds an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "Billy Elliot is a charming movie that can evoke both laughter and tears."[12]

Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, complimenting the performances of Julie Walters, Gary Lewis and Jamie Bell in particular.[13]

Awards and nominations[edit]

2000 British Independent Film Awards
  • Best British Independent Film (Won)
  • Best Director – Stephen Daldry (Won)
  • Best Newcomer – Jamie Bell (Won)
  • Best Actress – Julie Walters (Nomination)
  • Best Screenplay (Won)
2001 Academy Awards
2001 British Academy of Film and Television Arts
2001 Golden Globe Awards
2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards
2001 Young Artist Awards
Other awards

In 2004, the magazine Total Film named Billy Elliot the 39th greatest British film of all time.

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack was released on 11 March 2002, and includes several well-known rock and punk songs. The soundtrack also contains pieces of dialogue from the film.[15]

  1. "Cosmic Dancer" – T. Rex
  2. "Boys Play Football"
  3. "Get It On" – T. Rex
  4. "Mother's Letter"
  5. "I Believe" – Stephen Gately
  6. "Town Called Malice" – The Jam
  7. "The Sun Will Come Out"
  8. "I Love to Boogie" – T. Rex
  9. "Burning Up" – Eagle-Eye Cherry
  10. "Royal Ballet School"
  11. "London Calling" – The Clash
  12. "Children of the Revolution" – T. Rex
  13. "Audition Panel"
  14. "Shout to the Top!" – The Style Council
  15. "Walls Come Tumbling Down!" – The Style Council
  16. "Ride a White Swan" – T. Rex

Stage musical[edit]

In 2004, English singer/songwriter Elton John joined forces with the film's screenwriter Lee Hall to produce a musical adaptation of the film, which premiered 31 March 2005 at the Victoria Palace Theatre on the West End. Many of the film's crew took part in the stage production, including director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling. The musical received positive notices and, as of 2015, is still playing with five young actors in the role of Billy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Specific
  1. ^ "BILLY ELLIOT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 21 August 2000. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Billy Elliot (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Billy Elliot (2000)". Yahoo movies. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  4. ^ The Journal (17 June 2014). "Lee Hall interview: Why Lee will always love Live Theatre". The Journal. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Konttinen, Sirkka-Liisa (2009). Byker Revisited. Northumbria Press. p. vi. ISBN 1904794424. 
  6. ^ "Easington Colliery", Durham Mining Museum
  7. ^ a b c "Feature: Billy Elliot". BBC Tyne. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Billy Elliott's house to be bulldozed" - BBC News, 1 November 2012
  9. ^ Alnwick Street, Nethouseprices.com
  10. ^ "Village shares its Billy Elliot stories at live screening of West End show" - The Guardian, 28 September 2014
  11. ^ "Dying for someone to take care of cemetery; PLEA FOR LANDOWNERS TO CLEAN UP OVERGROWN GRAVEYARD"Evening Chronicle, 22 July 2008
  12. ^ Billy Elliot on Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ Roger Ebert's review of Billy Elliot
  14. ^ a b "22nd Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Billy Elliot Soundtrack". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
General

External links[edit]