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BILLY ELLIOT: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
At the height of the British miners' strike, young Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is reluctantly carrying his family's hopes of becoming a boxer. Despite his widowed father (Gary Lewis) having been a renowned pugilist, Billy can't seem to get the hang of it. With space at a premium due to the strike, a ballet class run by Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters) moves into the gym. The sight of the girls dancing strikes a chord with Billy. When Billy's Dad and older brother Tony (Jamie Draven) make it clear they regard his dancing as much as a betrayal, he begins attending the classes furtively. But in the small town, it's only a matter of time before Billy will have to face the music.

"I suppose I should just get over it. Or maybe not. Donít you just hate the American voice overs that accompany English films released in Australia? Itís not a patriotic thing as much as a cultural thing. Billy Elliot is so utterly English that the stylised American VO is an affront, especially when the DVD is for the Australian market. Ok, Iím off the soap box.

The 20-odd minute Breaking Free feature is a combination of trailer and electronic press kit. The problem with this is that it gives away way too much of the film, without opening it out by way of background or insight or illumination. Director Stephen Daltry is not afforded a proper full length interview nor is Jamie Bell. Both are chopped up and spread through the feature. The point that Daltry makes about the kick he as an Englishman gets out of hearing Americans laughing at ďour jokesĒ is poignantly ironic in the context of the Americanisation of this DVD feature.

The volume of clips is enough to obviate the need to actually watch the film. But of course youíll not want to see it until after youíve watched the film - but then itíll be a tad repetitious. Making features for DVD use requires more than shoving any old material onto the disc just to bump out the features list.

Navigational problems arenít many, since there isnít much to navigate: but if you get into the language set up menu, you may not be able to escape, except by the exit button and rebooting the DVD.

The film is set at the height of the British minersí strike in 1984. Young Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is reluctantly carrying his familyís hopes of becoming a boxer. Despite his widowed father (Gary Lewis) having been a renowned pugilist, Billy canít seem to get the hang of it. With space at a premium due to the strike, a ballet class run by Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters) moves into the gym. The sight of the girls dancing strikes a chord with Billy. When Billyís Dad and older brother Tony (Jamie Draven) make it clear they regard his dancing as much as a betrayal, he begins attending the classes furtively. But in the small town, itís only a matter of time before Billy will have to face the music.

It is both uplifting but profoundly sad at times, and full of insight. Never mind the slim pickins of the features, just enjoy the super sound and sight of the film."
Andrew L. Urban

Published May 17, 2001

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BEHIND THE SCENES

BILLY ELLIOT (PG)
(UK)

CAST: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Jean Haywood, Jamie Draven, Gary Lewis, Stuart Wells

DIRECTOR: Stephen Daltry

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col Tristar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: May 9, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES
Billy Elliot: Breaking Free
Cast/Crew Biographies
Trailer
Stills







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