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Billy Elliot–Miner’s Strike

Billy Elliot (2000) tells the story of a young boy’s struggle with identity against the backdrop of social and political turmoil of Thatcher-era Northern England. In this montage (featuring the Clash’s 1979 song “London Calling”), we see the police raid on Billy’s town during the 1984 miner’s strike, in which coal miners fought against low wages, poor working conditions, and rising unemployment. The scene alternates between Billy’s older brother running from and eventually being caught by the police and the havoc wrought by police violence on the town.

discussion

How are the police portrayed, particularly in comparison to the townspeople?

Why and how does the scene focus on individual characters (Billy and his brother)? Why and how does the scene also show us the scale of the police force and the townspeople it is impacting?

Why do you think The Clash song, “London Calling,” was used as a backdrop? How do the song’s lyrics parallel some of the themes raised in this scene? What is the tone conveyed by the song?

How does this scene compare to other portrayals you’ve seen of police violence in fiction or non-fiction media? Why do you think a worker’s strike would incite this kind of police violence? Is such violence justified? Why? Why not?