Individuals venturing into new experiences may encounter obstacles, but may also gain significant rewards. Do you agree with this perspective? In your response, refer to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.
The world can be harsh and oppressive. Only those who refuse to abandon their dreams truly can move into the world, and create new experiences through the potential obstacles they face. In the film ‘Billy Elliott’ by director Stephen Daldry and related text ‘State School No 1812’ by R.Cobb we see the ideas of the obstacles people must face on their journey into the world. This is explored through themes such as gender roles and identity, growth and maturation and pursuing dreams. These ideas are demonstrated through individuals in these two texts as they undertake new experiences encountering obstacles.
Through the struggle of gender conflict between societies an individual need to overcome the challenges. In the film Billy Elliott, Billy has to overcome the gender stereotypes that exist in the society he lives in. Through dialogue we understand that one of the biggest obstacles to Billy becoming a ballet dancer is the engrained gender stereotypes that are rigidly enforced in this harsh mining town. In the scene when Jackie Elliott finds out that Billy has been dancing he confronts Billy about it and ultimately forbids him to dance as “it’s for lasses”.
Jackie’s harsh tone and aggressive language highlight the fact that Billy is a boy which means he must not dance. The use of dialogue in the argument between Billy and his father highlights the challenge that gender presents in Billy successfully entering the world of dance.
Another example of gender conflict in the film, is shown through the camera angle, close up, on the pianist Mr Braithwaite as he approaches Billy after he completes his pirouette and whispers in his ear “You look like a right wanker to me son”, symbolises the constant challenge of gender that will forever hinder Billy’s journey into the world. Billy knows the ‘rules’ of society by regardless of the consequence of peoples disapproval he continues to dance and refused to abandon his dreams of moving into the world.
Contrastingly, the related text ‘State School No 1812’ is an example of gender conflict through the use of the boy’s uniform instead of casual clothing. The uniform creates a male identity. The boy’s in the image has their haircut the same length and are wearing the same uniform, through the use of the tie and briefcase in this image it symbolises their inevitable future. This is shown through the use of body language and gaze as all of the boy’s are hunched over and looking down with glum facial expressions.
The process of maturation that is inherent in moving into the world leads to the development of inner confidence. In the film Billy Elliott we see Billy gain self confidence through his dancing journey. Billy in the final can be understood as a totally different person that the Billy we introduced to prior to his movement into the world. Through body language Billy’s growth is captured in confidence through his entering of the world of dance. At the start of the film Billy is a character who scrawny and timid in the scene where he first attempts ballet.
His body language highlights that he is cautious and weary. He lacks self confidence as he approaches the ballet class nervous and unsure. Body language in the final scene emphasises Billy’s acquisition of inner confidence. He stands tall and proud, giving off the impression that he is now confident in his place in the world. The contrast of body language before and after Billy’s journey demonstrates how moving into the world to find ones place is rewarding as it can give one inner confidence.
Similarly in the image of the State School, the growth of the boy’s (being a state school) would be the development from childhood to adulthood. This is negatively shown through the hunched over body language of the boys. This is apparent as the positioning of everything in the image symbolises being locked away in the school as well as the daily routine. Even though the boy’s body language says otherwise, the obstacles the boys face are breaking out of monotony of everyday routine to become individuals with dreams.
Moving into the world results in change, transition or achievement, in Billy’s case compared to the beginning scene, he has transformed from obstacles to great success. This is shown through costuming of the last scene, as he is dressed as the beautiful white swan which he is playing from the narrative ‘Swan Lake’.
This symbolises the intertextuality of the novel the ugly duckling that turns into the beautiful white swan. The music in this scene is also evident to his achievement, talent and success. This soundtrack was also played towards the beginning of the film which emphasises his will to overcome the obstacles that he had faced in his journey to succeed.
Another example of Billy overcoming his obstacles is his victorious leap. This leap also clarifies and highlights his achievement and talent. The spotlight that shadows him during his preparation to take his leap emphasises that Billy Elliott is now the main attraction and that through all he has gained significant reward.
In contrast to Billy pursing dreams, there is a negative connotation towards the boys in State School to do the same. This is shown through the plark on the entrance of the school. This is intertextuality as it is from Dante’s Divine Comedy and is also supposedly similar to the inscription at the gate of hell, “Abandon all hope for yee who enters here.” This symbolises that all dreams that could be pursed won’t be pursed at the State School. This is also shown through the dark black could that is seen just after the entrance of the school. This demonstrated that there are obstacles that come with experiences and there is not always a reward at the end.
In conclusion, Billy Elliott and State School are both examples of experiences that encounter obstacles. But through possible benefits and potential consequences it is shown that Billy’s experiences gained significant rewards even though his consequences and obstacles were challenging. The boy’s at the State School had different circumstances and had more consequences than benefits for experiences to gain significant reward.