Texts and Human Experiences
Welcome back to another CLEAR blog post. In this post, we will be exploring Stephen Daldry's film 'Billy Elliot', and discussing its relevance to the 'Texts and Human Experiences' rubric. Billy's restricted human experience is initially dictated by his heteronormative social context. However, once Billy subverts such gender assumptions, he is able to embark on a more fulfilling and liberating human experience.
Daldry draws upon the restrictive social codes evident during Thatcher's period of industrialisation and its impact on the working class community. However, Billy parallels the struggle of the miners by challenging social constructs. By using dance as a form of escapism, he is able to actualise his passion and attain liberation from his oppressive world.
Examples and Analysis:
Initially, Billy's restricted human experience is a result of his entrapment within socially defined 'masculine' standards. This can be evidenced where Jackie, Billy's dad, berates Billy's choice to partake in dance classes, "Lads do football or boxing or wrestling". The tricolon coupled with the polysyndenton enacts a sequence of stereotypical masculine sports- of which were thought to be the norm for boys. This is coupled with a high angle shot, which dwarfs Billy, positioning him as inferior. Daldry has deliberately constructed this scene, using mise en scene with the violent diegetic tone of Jackie, to emphasise Billy's restricted human experience as he is unable to express himself or fulfill his passion.
However, Billy challenges such oppressive social rules about gender, and continues to pursue his passion for dance. This can be epitomised in the 'Angry dance' scene, where Billy's choreography is exaggerated as his dances through the town, reflecting the frustration with his restriction, yet it paradoxically acts as a form of catharsis. The non diegetic and upbeat tune of ‘A Town called Malice’ overpowers the diegetic sound of Jackie's aggressive yelling, symbolising the escapism of dance and Billy's potential to overcome rigid gender roles. Throughout this scene, he encounters numerous metaphysical barriers (i.e the brick wall), symbolising his entrapment within the confined social expectations of the 1980s. However, a wide camera shot of the vast, blue ocean foreshadows his eventual freedom, and his ability to find liberty outside of his oppressed human experience.
*Please note that while this information is a great starting point for these texts, relying solely on the information in this post will not be enough to get a result in the top bands.