This pack contains a photocopiable Student's Guide and a Teacher's Commentary

In the Student's Guide the film is segmented into units of 10-15 minutes duration. This facilitates work in the normal class period. There is a series of questions for each sequence that guides the viewing of the students and encourage them to keep a personal Response Journal.

The Teacher's Commentary is a well researched separate booklet which covers issues raised in the guide.

Each pack is priced @ € 40.00, postage free. Titles are shipped on receipt of payment. Delivery is by Standard Post: next-day delivery in Ireland, and 2-10 days for international orders.

Extract from Teacher's Commentary​

SEQUENCE 1 (DVD Chapters 1/2: 8 mins)

Let the film roll until George says “Billy! Punchbag!”

The film opens with a statement of where and when the action is set: Durham Coalfield, Northeast England, 1984. Margaret Thatcher is the British Prime Minister and she is locked in conflict with the striking miners’ union. A slim, artistic-looking hand takes an LP record from its cover and places it on a turn-table. A correction is made as the arm is replaced onto another track. This person seems to know what he wants. Dropping the needle on a record like this can cause damage and is not the best way to ensure its long life! This is Billy Elliot and he begins to bounce on his bed to the rhythm of T-Rex’s Cosmic Dancer. “I was dancing when I was twelve” sings Marc Bolan. We can clearly see that Billy is bouncing on his mattress, but in his mind he has gone to a special place and has a fantasy that he is flying through the air on a trampoline. He seems to be using every part of his body as the music and beat fill his mind. His face is beaming with pleasure. His arms and legs move suggesting flight and football. A bell signals the call of reality and Billy has to leave his trampolining to deal with the affairs of daily life.

The music plays on, though. He prepares breakfast. His movements are full of rhythm, just like his trampolining. Furthermore, he seems to be using every part of his body to get things done, e.g. opening the bedroom door with his head! The working class kitchen is crowded and apparently disorganised. Clothes hang about the place, drying off and getting aired. As he moves under the bag of clothes pegs he can’t resist a movement of the head as in football. He is full of life and energy. Horror fills his face when he sees the empty bed.

All his preparations are forgotten as he hurries to get out of the house to find the missing person. After a quick cut we are outside on the street as Billy charges through the back door into the yard.

Poor Grandma is old and distracted and hardly seems to recognise Billy when he catches up with her. She has left the house without bothering to dress for the outside. Billy treats her gently, reminding her of his name, and giving her time to re-orientate herself. Obviously this is not the first time he has had to deal with this type of situation! As he leads her away and back to the shelter of their house we see the police gathering on the hilltop above them. This police presence will be a recurring feature of Billy’s world as the film develops. No matter where he goes we will see the police moving ominously in the background.

Once again the change of scene is signalled by a sound cue. The grating noise of a flaw on the vinyl sounds and we see Tony and Billy in their beds in the dark. This is a shot that will be repeated at various times throughout the narrative. We will see the relationship between the brothers develop from being antagonistic to caring as Tony sees more clearly how special his little brother is. For the moment, though, all that concerns him is the scratch on his T-Rex album. He is listening to the track that Billy had been bouncing to. Life is tough for Billy. He has chores and responsibilities beyond his years.

The sound of a piano ushers in the scene in Billy’s house next morning. Tony is just as abrupt with his father, Jackie, as he had been with Billy. He tries to hurry him with impatient talk of the picket line. He rolls up a poster that supports the miners’ strike. He asks Billy if he has tidied up their room. As we have noted, the action of the film is set in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. The miners are striking for their rights. Tony and Jackie are part of the struggle. Jackie enters with a coal skuttle in his hand and says they have not much coal left. He can’t cope with Tony’s impetuosity and does not share his optimism that they will be back in work the following month.

Billy’s slow repetitive tapping of four or five notes on the piano grates on Jackie’s nerves. Billy declares that his mother would have let him play without a problem. Jackie reacts violently. This introduces two major themes in the film: grieving and violence. Jackie has a lot on his plate. He comes back into the doorway almost apologetically to tell Billy that there is fifty pence left for him on the fridge. Billy gets back to his piano playing.

Extract from Student's Guide: 


Read the following questions and then let the film roll until George says "Billy! Punchbag!"

Where is this film set, in time and place? Find out what you can about the area and the era. Who was the British Prime Minister at the time? What is happening in the credit sequence? Why is the arm of the record player lifted and replaced? Is this a good way to handle this kind of equipment? What are the first words on the soundtrack*? Can you suggest any links between the lyrics on the soundtrack and Billy’s movements? What exactly is going on in this scene? What signals the end of the credit sequence?

What do you think of the way Billy prepares the breakfast? Are there any similarities between the credit sequence and this scene? What kind of a house does Billy live in? What surprise does he get?

Why did Grandma leave the house? How did Billy know where to find her? What does he say to her? How does he say this? What sort of a boy is Billy? What is going on at the top of the hill as Billy leads Grandma away?

We cut to an interior night scene with Billy and his brother, Tony. What do you hear as the action begins? What song is Tony listening to on his headphones? Why does the music stop? We’ve seen the start and the end of Billy’s day. What kind of a life has he got?

What is Billy doing at the start of the next scene? How is Tony feeling? Where is he going? What is on his mind? What has he to say to his father, Jackie? What question has he for Billy? What is Jackie carrying as he comes into the room? What are his first words? What is Tony’s reply? What prop does Tony bring with him?

What kind of form is Jackie in? Why does he tell Billy to stop playing the piano? What has Billy to say about that? What effect does this have on his father? What does Jackie say as he re-appears in the doorway? How does he say it?

When does the music start up on the soundtrack? What photographs are on the piano? What might Billy be thinking as he plays? What impression of the family do you form based on these pictures? How does it compare with what we have seen of the family up to now?

What, in trade union jargon, is a ‘scab’? What is going on in the picket-line scene? Where is the camera positioned for this scene? How are the police presented to us?

Outside The Everington Boys’ Club, what is Billy’s first question for his friend, Michael. How is Billy treated as he stands by the door? What decision has Michael made? What does he think of boxing? Why does Billy go to boxing?