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Stephen Daldry on the Today Programme
"Audiences respond to the 'emotional rhythms' of Billy Elliot"
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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 10:30 GMT
Billy Elliot director 'delighted'
Stephen Daldry, Julie Walters and Jamie Bell
Daldry at the Baftas with Julie Walters and Jamie Bell
Stephen Daldry, director of Billy Elliot, which won a Bafta for outstanding British movie has expressed his "joy" at the success of what he calls a "very English" film.

"The real joy is watching different audiences around the world respond to it emotionally," Daldry told the BBC.

"I think it's a very English tale and it's surprising when in France, Spain, Italy or America people respond, essentially, to its emotional rhythms."

I think it's given kids the confidence that it is okay to dance and its not just a thing for girls - just the idea of ballet coming fashionable is wonderful

Stephen Daldry

These emotional rhythms have been criticised, notably by Time Magazine who called Billy Elliot "emotional pornography", but audiences have obviously not agreed.

The film is Daldry's debut as a feature film director, but he has long been a hero of British theatre.

As artistic director of the Royal Court he oversaw its transformation and he made his reputation with a revival of the JB Priestly play An Inspector Calls.


Though the play was written in 1945, it is about agitation and propaganda.

Its revival by Daldry at the end of Thatcherism was seen as an assault on the view that there is no such thing as society.

Daldry was a member of Sheffield University Socialist Workers' Party in the 80s, something he has said gave him "a political education".

As such, and for other work including David Hare's one-man-show about the Arab-Israeli conflict Via Dolorosa, Daldry is a known as a director who tackles political subjects.

Billy Elliot is no exception, as it is set against the backdrop of the 1984 miner's strike.

"I think the miners strike is central to the film and central to the great political struggle that happened in 1984," said Daldry.

Stephen Daldry with Julie Walters
Daldry admits to nipping in to see how Billy Elliot is doing when abroad
"Obviously those communities are still recovering from the devastation of not just the strike but also what happened after with whole coalfields wiped out."

"It is central as this is a film about a boy trying to find a means of self-expression within what is a collapsing world."

Billy Elliot's means of self-expression is to choose ballet over boxing to the fury of his father, a striking miner.


Inspired by Billy's example applications from boys from hitherto barren areas for dance to ballet schools have increased, something Daldry is delighted about.

"Its a total joy and delight to me that applications to ballet schools have gone up since the film came out," he said.

"I think it's given kids the confidence that it is okay to dance and its not just a thing for girls."

"Just the idea of ballet coming fashionable is wonderful."

Daldry is currently working at Pinewood Studios, where he is directing an adaptation of the Michael Cunningham novel The Hours, with a screenplay by David Hare.

The Hours is itself a derivative of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.

Daldry is directing Meryl Streep in the film and is in his element.

"It's just a joy," he said.

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See also:

15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Awards flow for Billy Elliot
04 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Award for Billy Elliot star
31 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Billy Elliot star's Bafta tonic
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Jamie's dance to fame
25 Feb 01 | Entertainment
High hopes for Billy
25 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Bafta for Billy Elliot
25 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Two Baftas for Billy Elliot
25 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Stars come out for the Baftas
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