Similar Ideas In Stephen Daldry’s Film Billy Elliot and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief
An individual’s transition into new phases of life or social contexts offers an opportunity to grasp renewed perceptions, dictated by experiences that may be confronting for themselves and their formative milieu. Such transitions occur beyond the individual’s comfort zone, where they must overcome both personal and societal boundaries in order to flourish and follow non-conformist aspirations. Stephen Daldry’s Film ‘Billy Elliot’ exemplifies to a profound extent, the hardship one must overcome when challenging archaic paradigms and perspectives in order to transition into new phases of life or social contexts. Correspondingly, Markus Zusak’s Novel The Book Thief highlights the confronting nature of transitioning into new phases of life or social contexts through the protagonist’s experiences. This transition will not be the destination but rather the beginning of a new journey that will reshape the protagonists drastically.
Archaic gender stereotypes act as constraints on opportunities for growth and development. Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot is set in the tightknit community of Durham, England, which embodies traditional gender stereotypes that boys are predestined to do masculine, manly activities and girls should be feminine and petite. The Mise-en-scene of the boxing hall is suggestive of the expectation for boys in the tight-knit community to do something physical and manly. The boxing hall is positioned next to the ballet class which creates a sharp contrast of a ‘male, section and a ‘female’ section. This notion of gender expectations is additionally apparent within billy’s family. Jackie states “boys do football or boxing or wrestling. Not friggen ballet!” A scene emphasising Jackie’s parochialism and highlighting the family constraints imposed on billy. Billy now has the opportunity to conform or to reject societal boundaries that are blocking his path to eventual success. Therefore gender expectations do act as barriers, constraining individual’s transitions into new phases of life or social contexts.
Personal and societal boundaries do not become absent once individuals transition into new phases of life or social contexts. Markus Zusaks novel The Book Thief exemplifies this notion through the protagonist, Liesel, who is faced with an inevitable transition into a new social context at the very beginning of the novel. Liesel is abandoned by her mother and inescapably plunges into the unknown by transitioning to her new foster home in Nazi Germany. Perhaps Liesel’s most significant personal boundary is her inability to read or write evidently seen by deaths contradictive and ironic statement “she was the book thief without words”. Hitler characterises Liesel’s new milieu, and imposes significant societal boundaries on Liesel and her ability to gain the power of words. Liesel overcomes this limitation by rejecting social paradigms and Hitler’s rein by stealing the unburnt book from the fire in Town Square, a pivotal moment of rejection in the novel highlighting Liesel’s fearless non-conformist nature. Zusak investigates this notion of rejection during Liesel’s and Han’s walk home “The Book started to burn her. It seemed to be igniting” conveying the physical effects of language. Hans and Liesel’s confluence of rejection, allows her to keep the book, once again proving their non-conformist rejection of cultural identity and Hitler’s rein. Furthermore, the last line of Liesel’s book uses a contradictive tone, to state “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right”. The line conveys Liesel’s realisation of the manipulative power of words and positions the audience to see her language development. Therefore personal and societal boundaries remain existent and continue to impose obstacles once individual transitions into a new phase of life or social context.
Personal qualities can act as the driving force to experience profound transitions into new phases of life or social contexts towards an unlikely success. This notion is explored throughout Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot through the protagonist billy, and his journey of transitioning into a new phase of life. Billy’s courageous non-conformist nature encompasses his willingness to reject the traditional views and stereotypes of Durham in order to achieve self-expression. This courageous personal quality is highlighted in billy’s short truncated statement “I don’t want a childhood. I want to be a ballet dancer “, emphasising billy’s decision to challenge societal boundaries. Societal boundaries block and interfere with billy’s opportunity for self-expression therefore creating a frustrating challenge for billy to overcome. Billy conveys frustration through dance evident during the soundtrack ‘I danced myself right out the womb’, which suggests billy was predestined to dance and ‘children of a revolution’ foreshadowing billy’s courageous choice to rebel against archaic gender stereotypes. Furthermore, billy display’s unstoppable determination in the humorous scene where billy attempts to master the pirouette in the bathroom. His achievement is symbolic of eventual success foreshadowing later success in the audition and climax of the film. Personal traits are significant factors within transitions and billy’s qualities ultimately drive him towards unlikely, yet eventual success.
Individuals must either conform or reject their milieus paradigms in order to experience transitions into new phases of life or social contexts. Markus Zusaks Novel The Book Thief explores this key decision through the protagonist’s choice to either obey or rebel against Hitler’s hegemonic beliefs and religious persecution of Jews. Hitler’s hegemonic beliefs, values, practices and attitudes display religious prejudice towards Jews by sending Nazi’s to hunt them down for persecution. Death’s contextual comment, “when a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you’re likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort” exaggerates the dehumanized environment in which Jews existed. Rosa and Hans reject Hitler’s rein by allowing Max Vandenburg, a Jew, to hide from persecution in their basement. Once found Hans was sent to war as punishment for hiding Max in his basement and rejecting Hitler’s rein. Consequently Han’s took the inevitable leap into a harsh new phase of life and is irrevocably changed by his transition when he returns to Munich. Therefore individual’s choice to conform or reject social norms, does in fact dictate transitions into new phases of life or social contexts to occur.
Catalysts influence transitions into new phases of life or social contexts by either triggering or accelerating change to occur in individual’s lives. Stephen Daldry’s Film Billy Elliot explores the consequences of catalysts and their influence over individual’s transitions into new phases of life or social contexts. Billy’s first discovery of the juxtaposed ballet class with the boxing ring creates a catalyst for change in billy’s life since it presented a moral dilemma of choice to either conform or reject gender expectations. In addition, Mrs Wilkinson acts as a motherly figure, mentor and role model for billy, catalysing his transition into a new phase of life. Mrs Wilkinson challenges billy and the status quo of society, when she advises “Go on, I dare ya’ with the use of pejorative colloquialism. She is symbolically daring billy to take the ballet shoes and challenge societal restraints. In addition, the harmonious implementation of intersexuality through the use of Swan Lake foreshadows billy’s future and positions the audience to view how billy made an unlikely dream, a reality. During the climax of the film, at the audition, billy shares a glimmer of passion through the use of zoomorphism. Billy expresses his feelings whilst dancing “Just there, flying, like a bird”, acting as a symbolic catalyst since these words transition billy into a new phase of life by granting him acceptance into the royal ballet school. Therefore, transitions into new phases of life or social contexts may be prompted or enhanced through the influence of catalysts.
An individual’s transition into new phase of life or social context is sparked by experiences that may be confronting for themselves and their formative milieu. Both, Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot and Markus Zusaks novel The Book Thief explores the transition of individuals into new phases of life and new social contexts through the protagonists journey beyond their comfort zone. Wether the individuals transition permanently or temporarily, the individual will be permanently transformed on a physical, emotional and/or psychological level.
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