Elliot" on DVD
Not your average
song and dance
Billy Elliot is an eleven year old kid growing up in a strike-bound mining
town in County Durham, Northern England. It's 1984, and he's a regular
kid doing the things that regular kids do.
Then one day during his boxing lesson he discovers ballet, via an all-girls
dance class that shares the gymnasium with them. His life is changed.
Something about ballet appeals to Billy and, almost reluctantly, he starts
dumping his boxing lessons in favor of dance.
This is not something that young boys do, of course, so rumors start
swirling about his sexuality etc., which makes Billy's life more difficult.
Add to that a close friend of his who really is exploring an alternate
side to male sexuality, and even more complications arise.
Billy has a germ of talent, though, and his ballet teacher (played by
Julie Walters) starts teaching him on the sly, grooming him for an audition
to attend the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London.
When his family, which consists of his widowed father and his brother
(both of whom are striking against the mine) learns of Billy's, shall
we say, tendencies, the resulting conflict puts an end to Billy's dance
career, at least for a while and he misses the audition. But you can't
keep a good story down, and Billy finds himself drawn to dance even while
merely walking down the street. The bug is in him, and the dancing is
bound to come out somehow.
Billy Elliot is a charming and quite moving film. It's light-hearted
in places, yet does a terrific job of making the audience feel the despair
these ordinary people experience as the strike drags on and they're forced
to take drastic measures in order to continue with the simple basics of
life, like wood for the fire.
The dialogue and situations are very real, as are the performances, and
Billy Elliot tells its story without bogging down in schmaltz or beating
the audience over the head with any agenda.
Jamie Bell, as Billy, is wonderful; he's at times awkward and confused
and at other times soaring and strong. His dancing brings to mind more
of a Gene Kelly type of dance performance than it does ballet, but that's
okay; it's the dancing, not the type of dancing, that Billy loves and
which is his major means of self expression.
Walters plays her part perfectly, and Gary Lewis as Billy's dad makes
you really feel for what these miners were going through - ultimately
to see their union cave.
When one first hears that Billy Elliot is a movie about a kid living
in a macho world who wants to be a ballet dancer, one might think that
this is yet another political or social statement movie - and in the hands
of a less deft screenwriter and less gentle director it could easily have
been. It isn't, however. Billy Elliot is a wonderful tale of every boy's
coming of age and pursuit of his dreams. A terrific movie.
The DVD is presented in widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 TV's, and the
video and Dolby Digital audio are very good. The disc we got was a pre-release
screener, which had no menu and no package, so we can't say what, if any,
special features will be on the final DVD. It doesn't matter, though.
Billy Elliot deserves to be seen even if it doesn't even come with the
It's a wonderful movie.
Billy Elliot, from Universal Home Video
111 min. widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis
Produced by Greg Brenman, Jonathan Finn II
Written by Lee Hall, directed by Stephen Daldry
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