Sunday, August 8, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 08

"31 Day Movie Meme"

Day 08 | Movie that should be required high school viewing

Couldn't really wrap my head around this one since you could've taken this and ran with it in a few different directions. I think ultimately though, the film should have some sort of value for the audience, in this case, mid-to-late teenagers. It should also be a film that most of them would probably shy away from for one reason or another i.e. it's a foreign film or it's not cool enough, not in 3D, no hotties sexing it up, etc. So of course I picked a movie EXACTLY like that.

Billy Elliot, the Oscar-nominated film directed by Stephen Daldry, came out in 2000. Unfortunately, I didn't see it until I was in college back in 2006. It quickly became one of my all-time favorite films and I do believe it is recommended viewing for all-ages, not just teenagers.

The film is about the title character, Billy Elliot, an eleven-year-old boy (played wonderfully by then newcomer Jamie Bell) and his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Despite the protestations of his blue collar father and brother, he persists in pursuing his dreams until they finally have a change of heart. So ultimately, the main lesson of the film is to always follow your heart's desire. It's a simple, but powerful message that we all need to hear once in a while.

Apart from that, the film touches on many other important issues...

The way the film deals with gender norms and homosexuality is great. With Billy wanting to be a ballet dancer, his family and the whole town have to readjust their preconceived notion of what's "right" for a boy to do. Running parallel to this is the journey of Billy's friend Michael who's trying to come to grips with his own identity. We see him cross-dressing, putting on lipstick, and finally coming out to Billy and kissing him. How does the lead character react to this show of courage and affection? By smiling at his friend. It's a beautiful moment and if every teenager could just see that, maybe just maybe something would click, you know?

With the film set against the backdrop of a miner's strike, the viewer also sees a town with lots of families struggling. With many families right now struggling due to the economy, I don't think it would hurt kids to see this cinematic reality check as they talk to their friends on their iPhones, wearing their fancy jeans, and sipping their Starbucks while their parents work a 2nd or 3rd job and/or trying to find part-time because they have been recently laid off.

So in summary, Billy Elliot should be watched by everyone in high school and beyond. It teaches one to follow's one's dream as well as make people reflect on their views on gender norms, homosexuality, and money. All of this and lots of awesome dancing. Take that High School Musical!


  1. Okay, well, now I HAVE to see it. :-) And I'll have to watch it with Falon.

  2. It should be great for Falon. Though IIRC, there's some strong language... a few fucks here and there...


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