Directed by: Ken Loach
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Length: 106 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 20 January 2003
Cat No: 16823DVD
Languages(s): English, German
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English, German
Screen ratio 1:1.66
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Acclaimed drama from director Ken Loach following a young boy from a working-class Northern town who begins training a falcon to find... Read More
the best film ever made.David Bradley,Freddie fletcher and lynne Perrie were outstanding
Ken Loach's second feature film was awarded the bnest film prize at the Karlovy Vary Festival in 1969. Despite this, the distributor (United Artists) was unsure of the film's prospects and after its British premiere at the ABC Doncaster there was an interval of three months before it opened in London at the Academy (an art house slot that has been the fate of subsequent Loach films).
Three decades on, Kes is the director's best known and best loved cinema work. It received excellent review when re-released in 1999 and was placed seventh in the BFI poll to choose Britain's 100 greatest films. Why does Kes now merit classic status?
The social realism Loach was aiming for is fully achieved. The film was shot entirely on location, the Barnsley locations closely matching those described in Barry Hines novel "A Kestrel for a Knave". The dialogue, adapated from the novel by Hines, Loach aand producer Tony Garnett, is credibly naturalistic. The performances by non-professional actors are equally credible because they could feel they had something in common with their characters and thus be themselves as far as possible. The only full-time professional in the cast is Colin Welland, but he was cast because he was a trained teacher and that was what Loach required.
Kes still has something to say about the resilience of youth. David Bradley's embodiment of Billy Casper is affecting and amusing - Loach has said "we all regarded it as a comedy". Indeed, mention Kes to anyone who has been an occasional cinemagoer and the odds are that he/she will immeditaley recall the games lesson's football match organised by Brian Glover's PE teacher. Billy Casper's future may be unpromising, but humour is present in his progress towrads, and conflict with, adulthood.
David Bradley plays Billy Casper, a bored teenager who one day happens upon a young kestrel in a field near his home. Billy names the bird 'Kes' and takes it under his wing (as it were), forming a bond with the bird and feeding, caring for and training it. In so doing, Billy finds that his life has taken on a sense of purpose in the face of the drudgery of his normal daily existence.
Although the film largely shows Billy to be a lazy, rude and dislikeable boy, the time he spends with Kes brings to the fore a more mature and human side to his character. However, given the volatility of his home-life (particularly his relationship with older brother Jud), the situation is ultimately doomed, but you will find it hard not to shed a tear when the inevitable eventually happens.
This is not to say that this is a film devoid of humour - the hilarious scene where sports teacher Mr Sugden (Brian Glover) turns a school football match into Man Utd v Spurs is, for one, the stuff of legend.
Arguably Ken Loach's tour de force, and unquestionably one of the all-time great British films, Kes is a frank and moving study of life in a bleak Northern mining town and a young boy's struggle against the forces of the society around him.