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Human Paradoxes and Inconsistencies of Human Behaviour in Billy Eliot

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In “Billy Elliot” human paradoxes and inconsistencies in behaviour arise when values and identity are challenged, inviting the reader to see the world differently. Young Billy Elliot, from a confined closed community, with its limited expectations, poverty, restrictive gender roles, stifled self-expression and disintegration community structure, ignites new gender identities by challenging assumption and presents the world from a different perspective. These paradoxes, anomalies and inconsistencies in behaviour are challenged by the defying actions of Billy, in trying to contest against societies stereotypes. By Billy challenging assumptions of men doing ballet, instinctive human behaviour and emotions break bonds of love; build anger and tension between family. The long struggle of Billy challenging assumptions finally breaks the anomaly and paradox of society; as they are seen supporting Billy to pursue his dreams at the end.

The importance of support in hardship to overcome barriers in life is an integral part of Billy Elliot’s life. Throughout the film we observe Billy and his family members having trouble connecting to one another and having to find allegiance to one another in spite of their huge differences. Inconsistencies in human behaviour arise when values and identity is challenged is evident in the scene when Jackie discovers Billy at dance class, Jackie’s masculinity is challenged forcing his natural instinct of anger and hatred for self, towards Billy’s abnormal acts of gender roles. The fear to lose his family pedigree and feeling of mortification in front of society, triggers Jackie to react in an aggressive manner, even though he loves his son. Additionally, the director also focuses upon the lack of family connection and the struggle to support one another with the continuous aggressive dialogue used towards the grandma. Furthermore, Dauldry slowly builds a change of behaviour evident when is Billy is dancing to the song “I love to boogie”. The cross-cut between family members such as Tony, Jackie, Grandma, slowly emphasises the build-up of family connections, reunion and support for one another. The composer purposely plays an uplifting non-diegetic sound to highlight a sense of hope and relief for Billy’s future. These techniques of cross-cut and uplifting non-diegetic music emphasises the slow change in Jackie’s inconsistent behaviour, as he realises the potential of Billy. While the beginning of the film paints a portrait of a fragmented family, one whose members do not support or understand one another, eventually it becomes a film about the power of love in a family, and how even in turmoil, family can come together.

Billy Elliot’s actions defy his mindset towards finding a voice for himself, in a restricted community that do not allow for one to cross such lines of gender roles. 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 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.

Challenging societies gender roles is integral part in restricting billy from achieving his dreams. 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. The technique of slow close up emphasises the build-up of tension and the escalation towards a family feud. 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 fulfil his passion.

To conclude, in Billy Eliot, through the utilisation of music, film techniques, camera techniques and character relationship, Daldry endorses human paradoxes, anomalies and inconsistencies in behaviour arising from values and identities being challenged. Similarly, Daldry scrutinizes the pressure of conformity and adversity that arise, can be cured with emotional and human connection.  

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Human Paradoxes And Inconsistencies Of Human Behaviour In Billy Eliot. (2022, April 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
“Human Paradoxes And Inconsistencies Of Human Behaviour In Billy Eliot.” GradesFixer, 11 Apr. 2022,
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