Billy Elliot: A Novel Based on a Motion Picture by Melvin Burgess: A Book Review

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I am also into reading novelized movies aside from watching adapted movies. I tend not to be content with watching movies with my mouth agape; I want to understand the whole story completely, for there are times that I can’t follow the dialogues because I’m not much familiar with accent with which characters speak.

Billy Elliot is the only movie that comes to my mind when someone asks me what my favorite movie is. It is a British dance drama film about an eleven-year-old boy desiring to be a professional ballet dancer. However, both his father and brother are inculcated in the negative stereotype of the male ballet dancer. Males into this kind of art in western society in the early 19th century were said to be weak, effeminate, or homosexual. In short, all boys in his countryside are supposed to do things only for males. So, it is a big decision for Billy, especially both his father and brother are miners struggling against the government’s plan to close all coal mines.

Reading the novelized movie has made me love the movie more. The novel and the movie have the same scenes. The dialogues became crystal-clear to me. The characters’ voices were even echoing through my head except Billy’s famous lines when a tutor asks him what he feels when he’s dancing. In the book, it goes, “When I dance, my body is full of fire, and I forget everything.”, but in the movie:

“Don’t know. Sorta feels good. Sorta stiff and that, but once I get going… then I like, forget everything. And… sorta disappear. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’ like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.”

Also, it seems that the novel has been expurgated for the F-words steeped in the film. In the movie, I could almost hear quite a few bad words which seem to be a common way of communication among early Irish people. No doubt the movie has been censored for young audience as far as I know.

On the other hand, I have proven that Billy is not gay at all. Count me in those people who have the negative stereotype of the male ballet dancer. I deserve to be pilloried in public or put to the sword.(laughs)

The story is narrated by the main characters: Billy, Jack , his father; Tony, his older brother, and Michael, his gay best friend. So, I did not have a hard time reading it. In fact, the sequence of the plot is almost similar to the movie.

After reading it, I watched my favorite scenes in the movie again: when Billy dances to his father’s presence, when he auditions at the ballet school (definitely one of the unforgettable scenes) when one of the school tutors asks him what he feels when he dances, when he opens the letter whether he is in or not, when his father and brother go watch his major ballet concert and come across  his gay best friend Michael- the leave-me-in-the-air finale.

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My favorite scene in the movie when Billy dances to his dad’s presence

The major moral lesson of the story which is why it is one of my most favorite movies is that follow your dream no matter how harsh the culture you conform to. Such dilemma is still typical of our culture nowadays. There are still different traditional norms women and men should follow.

Aside from the novelized movies Billy Elliot and Brokeback Mountain, I also want to read the novelizations of Eclipse and Beach(2000) in which both starred by Hollywood actor Leonardo Dicaprio, Braveheart  directed  by and starring Mel Gibson,  3 Idiots (1999,India). I also wish that there are some available for my favorite pink movies such as Love of Siam (2007, Thailand), Boys Love 1 (Bōizu Rabu) (2006, Japan), and Prayer for Bobby ( 2009, USA), to name a few. 🙂

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it.)



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