Billy Elliot

"Billy Elliot", Modern day Ugly Duckling?

Billy Elliot, written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry, is a modern day version of the fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling,” In this film, growing up in a small town in northeast England, the ugly duckling is an eleven-year old son of a poor coal miner. It is a time of struggle and violence because of a bitter labor strike. Billy lives in a tiny apartment with his father and grandmother, and he shares a room with his older brother. Early in the movie, Billy (Jamie Bell) is seen taking a pounding in a boxing class. When he stands up still dazed, he notices Mrs. Wilkinson’s (Julie Walters) ballet class, which is being held in the same place. Billy is invited to join the class, and Mrs. Wilkinson discovers that he has an incredible gift of movement and dance. Billy’s father (Gary Lewis) confronts him about the ballet class because he feels that ballet is only for girls “poofers” (gays), so he forbids him from ever going again. Billy continues to train in secret while the film develops an interesting comparison between him and his best friend Michael (Stuart Wells), who is also struggling with his identity. When Billy’s father catches him dancing with Michael dressed in a tutu, we, the audience, believe that it is all over. However, Billy finds the courage to dance for his father to show him the tremendous gift that Mrs. Wilkinson had recognized. Both the family and the community rally around the boy to raise enough money for an audition at the Royal Ballet School. The film ends years later in a London theater, where Billy Elliot, now famous and no longer the Ugly Duckling, leaps onto the stage. He is transformed into a beautiful swan performing for his father, brother and Michael, who is escorted by his gay lover. The transition is now completed for them all.