Billy Elliot is one of the most critically acclaimed and culturally significant British movies of the past several decades. Set in the 1980s during the miners’ strike, the film follows a young boy as he finds a new love for ballet, going against his family’s working-class traditions.
The film was a huge critical success, with Billy Elliot going on to receive Academy Award nominations after its release. In addition to its critical success, the movie was also incredibly popular, with Elton John even writing a stage musical based on the Billy Elliot movie.
10 Jamie Bell Studied Ballet
The film followed the titular Billy Elliot as he found a love of ballet, showing the boy as he managed to both learn about the art form and also learn how to convince those close to him that ballet is a worthy pursuit.
What is interesting is that Jamie Bell, the actor who portrays Billy Elliot, had been dancing since he was six years old and was actually trained in ballet. Like Billy, Jamie Bell was teased in school for being a ballet dancer.
9 Jamie Bell’s Puberty
Billy Elliot is an 11-year-old boy and, as such, the actor portraying Billy had to be suitably aged for the role. As a result, aged 12 at the time, Jamie Bell was cast in the role of Billy Elliot.
However, Jamie Bell’s age, while making him ideal for the role, also meant he was in the throes of puberty at the time. As such, some of his dialogue had to be ‘post-synced,’ as his voice broke during filming, while his legs had to be shaved in some reshoots, as they grew too hairy.
8 Its Original Title
It isn’t uncommon for movies to change their title prior to release. Some movies even change their name after release, with the most recent example of this being the Birds of Prey title being changed to simply read Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Billy Elliot suffered several name changes during production, and even one after its release at the Cannes Film Festival. It was originally titled Dancer and then Dancer in the Dark before the producers settled on Billy Elliot.
7 Filmed In Easington
The background of the film is very real, with the story being set in a northern English coal-mining town during the brutal miners’ strike. The film is set in a town called Everington, however, this is a fictional town.
Despite being set in Everington, the film was actually filmed in Easington Colliery, a coal mining village in the northeast of England that was hit particularly hard during the miners’ strike.
6 Why Mrs. Wilkinson Doesn’t Appear At The End
The film follows Billy as he learns to gain the support of his family and friends, despite the art of men’s ballet being frowned upon by his working-class community. The film famously concludes with a time jump, showing Billy dancing in Swan Lake for his father and brother.
However, some fans of the movie have wondered why Mrs. Wilkinson wasn’t present at the conclusion of the film. The reason for this was simply that Julie Walters wasn’t available for filming.
5 Inspired By Philip Marsden
The story of Billy Elliot, despite being fiction, did have some real-world inspiration. As mentioned, the film is set during the miners’ strike of the 1980s, a period of time that continues to have a huge effect on mining communities across Northern England and Wales.
However, in addition to the backdrop, Billy Elliot himself was also inspired by a real-life individual. The Royal Ballet Dancer Philip Marsden is a ballet dancer from the north of England, who also came from a mining family.
4 Jamie Bell Is From The Area
Northeastern England is one of the most beautiful areas of the country, boasting such cities as Newcastle and Durham. In addition to its well-known cities, it also has some famous faces connected to it, with Ridley Scott, Sting, and Rowan Atkinson all hailing from the northeast.
Additionally, Jamie Bell also comes from the North East of England. The actor lived in nearby Billingham prior to starring in Billy Elliot.
3 Dame Julie Walters Struggled With The Dancing
Dame Julie Walters played the fantastic Mrs. Wilkinson in the movie, the teacher who would ultimately introduce Billy Elliot to ballet and, essentially, force him to pursue his love of ballet and join the Royal Ballet School.
While Dame Julie Walters didn’t have too much dancing to do, she did struggle with one particular dancing scene and explained that she struggled due to symptoms of menopause that she was experiencing at the time of filming.
2 Claustrophobic Filming
Easington Colliery, the town that stood in for Everington during the filming of Billy Elliot, was a former coal-mining town with close connections between its inhabitants. In order to reflect this tight-knit community, cinematographer Brian Tufano had the scenes in the mining village feel as claustrophobic as possible.
However, Tufano would open up the scenes in which Billy dances to highlight how Billy feels free when he dances, allowing him to escape the social pressure of his community.
1 Legacy Of The Movie
The movie grappled with several themes, some of which are still present to this day, including toxic masculinity, familial expectations, and social pressure to conform to a particular role based on your gender.
With reference to ballet, the film helped introduce several new young men to the ballet art form. The New York Times reported in January 2020 that three of the four men in a recent performance of Swan Lake said that Billy Elliot had a direct influence on them.
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