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Billy Elliot (2000) - Plot Summary Poster

(2000)

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Summaries

  • County Durham, during the endless, violent 1984 strike against the Thatcher closure of British coal mines. Widower Jackie Elliot and his firstborn, fellow miner Tony, take a dim view of 11 year-old second son Billy's poor record in boxing class, which worsens when they discover he sneakily transferred to the neighboring, otherwise girls-only-attended ballet class. Only one schoolmate, closet-gay Michael Caffrey, encourages Billy's desire, aroused by the teacher, who judged him talented enough for private lesson, to train and try out for the world-renowned Royal Ballet audition. Only the prospect of a fancy career unimagined in the pauper quarter may twist pa and big brother's opposition to indispensable support.

  • 1984 in the coal mining village of Evrington, Durham County, Northeast England. The only life the Elliots have known is working in the mine. Current family patriarch, widowed Jackie Elliot, and his eldest son Tony Elliot work in the mine, and Jackie's younger son, eleven year old Billy Elliot, will probably take his place alongside his father and brother when the time comes. However, Jackie, Tony and their fellow miners are currently in a bitter labor dispute, with the mine still operating with scab labor, which is prolonging the strike since the company has no reason to give in to the wage demands. With the strike foremost on Jackie and Tony's minds, Billy is left largely to his own devices, his father giving him 50p for the community boxing class down at the boys' club when Billy is not at home looking after his gram, who has early onset Alzheimer's. Learning how to box is another of the activities passed down along the male lineage of the Elliot family. However, Billy doesn't much like it and isn't very good at it, instead more interested in the movement put to music in the form of the girls' ballet class held on the other side of the gym by chain-smoking Mrs. Wilkinson. Soon, Billy has ditched the boxing, instead secretly attending the ballet class with Mrs. Wilkinson's blessing. She can see that Billy not only has natural talent but passion, unlike most of the girls in the class, so much so that she believes he may have a real shot at making it into the Royal Ballet School. However, Billy has to decide whether this path is one he wants to take, especially as it means coming clean to his family, Jackie and Tony who may feel emasculated in the process, especially if their miner friends find out, and especially in Billy's destiny as a coal miner himself. Billy's involvement in the ballet may tear the family apart in ways he didn't even imagine. But Billy may get guidance in following his dreams regardless of the views of others, by his best friend Michael Caffrey, and a letter left to Billy by his mother before she died.

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  • Set against the background of the 1984 Miner's Strike, Billy Elliot is an 11 year old boy who stumbles out of the boxing ring and onto the ballet floor. He faces many trials and triumphs as he strives to conquer his family's set ways, inner conflict, and standing on his toes!

  • 1984: In a northern England mining town, miners are on strike and the atmosphere is tense. Eleven-year old Billy Elliot, whose father and brother are participating in the strike, whose mother has died quite some time ago and whose grandmother is not completely aware of what's going on, doesn't like the brutal boxing lessons at school. Instead, he falls for the girls' ballet lessons. When his folks find out about this unusual love of his, Billy is in trouble. Being supported by the ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, he keeps on training secretly while the work situation as well as the problems at home get worse. Finally, Mrs. Wilkinson manages to get Billy an audition for the Royal Ballet School, but now he also has to open his heart to his family.

  • Against the background of an increasingly bitter miners' strike that his elder brother and father are involved in, young Billy Elliot finds he prefers joining in the girls' ballet class at the local hall to the boxing he's there for. The ballet mistress soon realises he has real potential, but no-one, least of all his family, is likely to go along with a lad doing dancing.

  • A talented young boy becomes torn between his unexpected love of dance and the disintegration of his family.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • The film is set during the 19841985 UK miners' strike, and centres on the character of 11-year-old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), his love of dance and his hope to become a professional ballet dancer. Billy lives with his widowed father Jackie (Gary Lewis), older brother Tony (Jamie Draven), and his invalid Nan (Jean Heywood), who once aspired to be a professional dancer in Durham. Both Jackie and Tony are coal miners out on strike.

    Jackie takes Billy to the Sports Centre to learn boxing like his father's dad, but Billy struggles and dislikes the sport. He then happens upon a ballet class that is using the gym while their usual basement studio in the Sports Centre is temporarily being used as a soup kitchen for the striking miners. Unknown to Billy's father, he joins the ballet class. When Jackie discovers this after the boxing coach mentions Billy's absence, he forbids Billy to take any more ballet. But, passionate about dancing, Billy secretly continues his lessons with his dance teacher Georgia Wilkinson's (Julie Walters) help.

    Georgia 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. Georgia goes to Billy's house to tell Jackie about the missed opportunity. Jackie and Tony, fearing that Billy will be considered a "poof", are outraged at the prospect of him becoming a professional ballet dancer.

    Over Christmas, Billy's best friend, Michael, kisses him on the cheek. Although Billy is not gay, he is supportive of his friend. Later, Jackie sees Billy dancing in the gym and realises his son is truly gifted, and he will do whatever it takes to help Billy realise his dream. Jackie attempts to cross the picket line to pay for Billy's training, but is blocked by Tony. Instead, his fellow miners and the neighbourhood raise money for Billy, and Jackie takes him to London to audition for the Royal Ballet School. Though highly nervous, Billy performs well, but after he punches another boy in an unprovoked attack at the audition, he is sternly rebuked by the review board. However, as a final question, they ask him what it feels like when he's dancing, to which Billy responds, "like electricity." Billy returns home with his father. Sometime later, he receives a letter accepting him to the Royal Ballet School, and he leaves his family to go there.

    The film's final scene is set fourteen years later (approximately 1999), when Billy has finally attained his goal: the mature Billy (dancer/actor Adam Cooper) takes the stage to perform the lead in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, as Jackie, Tony, and Michael watch in the audience.

See also

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