Billy Elliot Phoenix Senior English Textual Study

Author: Barbara Stanners, Publisher: Phoenix

Written for the 2019-2023 NSW Year 12 English syllabus - Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

Storytelling lies at the heart of nearly all textual representation, regardless of the mode or medium used. What is explored, revealed or challenged within such representations, often explores the universality of personal or societal human experience. Since conflict drives narrative, regardless of form, context or era; texts often depict how people struggle against different types of adversity such as injustice, prejudice or oppression. By focusing on the individual or collective human experience in response to such pressures, audiences are prompted to become actively engaged with the attitudes, motivations and perspectives of others. Personal evaluation of what is being said about human nature and how it is being represented prompts more fundamental questioning about the nature of humanity itself and existence. Knowledge and understanding can be broadened or challenged by texts that highlight the moral divide between oppressors and the oppressed, or the corrupt and the innocent. The narrative struggle in such texts is often lost but in the process, the audience has been positioned to recognise and applaud the qualities of resilience, fortitude and integrity.

‘Billy Elliot’, directed by Stephen Daldry, is contextually in the midst of the industrial unrest of the 1984 ‘Miner’s Strike’, viewed by screenwriter Lee Hall as being ‘one of the defining moments in British History, a time of enormous personal and social struggle against political oppression. Daldry wanted to celebrate ‘the human spirit’ and used the ‘despair and courage of that sort of situation’ to portray ‘a community at war with its own government.’ The struggle of a Durham mining community to achieve social justice is effectively combined with a young boy’s personal struggle to achieve his artistic ambitions and become a ballet dancer. Cinema is a powerful storytelling medium because images are universally powerful and intuitively understood. The film validates both individual and communal determination and perseverance. The interwoven storylines are given emotional resonance via the film’s gritty script and masterful editing and cinematography. Human resolve and resilience in response to adversity is enhanced by the incorporation of some of the best protest music of the era including ‘Town Called Malice’ by ‘The Jam’. The film’s depiction of the Miner’s Strike retains relevance because of its enduring legacy of injustice and human suffering.


  • Texts and Human Experiences
  • Textual Representation of Human Experiences
  • Textual Study Billy Elliot
  • Political Context
  • Exploring Film
  • Film Analysis
  • Billy Elliot
  • Responding to Text
  • Personal Response
More Information
Year Level Year 10, Year 11, Year 12
Date of Publication 2018
ISBN 9781925169119
Subject English
We found other products you might like!