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"Consider how the police are depicted in 'The Blue Lamp' and 'Billy Elliot'".

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Introduction

“Consider how the police are depicted in ‘The Blue Lamp’ and ‘Billy Elliot’”.

I shall begin my essay by studying several scenes in the film ‘Billy Elliot’, which was made in 2000, directed by Stephen Daldry. The main focus of this particular film is the 1984 miners’ strike, a defining point in British history.

Billy Elliot is a young boy of age eleven. He lives in a small and confined north-eastern mining district, where the majority of workers are currently involved in a violent strike as a form of forceful protestation. Billy lives with his elderly grandmother, as well as his older brother Tony and his father who are both connected with their striking miners maintaining a picket line against the strike-breakers.

The first significant shot in the film, providing us with our initial view of the police, consists of Billy discovering that his grandmother has strayed out of the house they share. He runs into the nearby field, eventually finding and coaxing his absent-minded grandmother to return home. The police force are visible on a road above the field. The camera shot is a ‘long-shot’, focusing on the force’s high position and great number, and therefore making the officers seem superior. The police are shown here to be a nameless, unknown body. It seems as though the habitants of the district are used to, and have become familiar with, the seemingly strong force surrounding the community. Billy ignores the police, and they do not see him as they plan another day controlling the picket line and the increasing number of miners encompassed in the violent resistance to the strike-breakers, including Tony and Mr. Elliot.

Billy, much to the disgust of the father, is interested in ballet dancing and secretly attends lesson.

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Middle

Considerably later on in the film, the strikers’ determination to block all means of strike-breakers obtaining access to the mines causes a riot. The police seem prepared for the situation, but nevertheless they use what appears to the audience as unnecessary violence. Billy’s brothers Tony is being chased; and in their bid to control a single man the police force seem excessively brutal. Daldry’s camera shot is a low-angle, emphasizing the size of the police boots as the policemen clamber combatively out of the police van.

The use of aggressive, turbulent punk rock music (“London Calling” by The Clash) in this scene emphasizes the intensity of the chase, as do the camera shots - the majority of which are high-angle shots. The police are depicted here as a barrier of savagery, as their officers surround the streets and even the houses.

Billy is shown as a spectator, desperately attempting to warn his brother, but to no avail. Billy’s cries are lost in the cacophony of the riot. As Tony frantically bolts through the houses of the village, the audience is shown that the residents are pro-miner (therefore pro-Tony) and anti-police – probably because of the regularity of such events. They open doors for Tony to dash through but are not as willing to leave their houses available for police intrusion, as the police knock over a man in his own home, and another young male washing a car. Tony stops only to gulp a sip of tea from a citizen’s kitchen and to spit on the bonnet of a police van in the street, again proving his point, albeit insignificantly. Here, the chase of Tony is being used to give a prototypical and very negative view of the police in this film.

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Conclusion

When called to a local jeweller’s home, the police treat the citizen, Mr. Jordan, extremely courteously. Jordan is determined that the fact he has been with his mistress is kept a secret from his wife. The police kindly assure him that the publicity will be kept low-key. The effect of humour is again portrayed in the scene as Mr. Jordan’s mistress discovers that her beloved pearl necklace is in fact an imitation and not genuine. None of this humour, as noticed, is present in “Billy Elliot”. The police seem to involuntarily be included in the everyday happenings and business of the entire community. This, however, is what the film intends to insinuate.

As stated, “Billy Elliot” and “The Blue Lamp” are two very different films made for very different reasons. There are some things that the two have in common, and I’m sure there are aspects of the police that could be taken from both films and applied to the present day. In a sense, both are propaganda films, although “The Blue Lamp” is more positive. “Billy Elliot” presents the officers very negatively, as they seem to use nonessential savagery for more petty crime prevention. Despite this, “Billy Elliot” depicts the police as intent upon keeping order, which of course is the job of such a force. The police forces in the two films show very different ways of keeping conduct in the community.

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