Although Kes was not Loach's first film (he had made "Cathy come home" for
television and "Poor Cow") it is probably his best both artistically and
Historically, the film is an important one, because it's the first one
gives an accurate description of a working-class environment. There had
several social realist movies made before it, such as Karel Reisz's
"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" or Tony Richardson's "Billy Liar", but
Kes set a whole new agenda.
Esthetically, Loach went a lot further than those before him, filming his
characters in a quasi-documentary way. Also, the actors were, for a great
part, non-professionals, which lent a further "realistic" touch to the
For the first time, strong regional accents (Yorkshire) were allowed to
freely. Finally, the story itself is extremely compelling. Without being
all demonstrative or heavy, the film is the most powerful indictment of
british class system that has ever been recorded on film.
Billy Casper, the hero, is shown to have absolutely no chance of escaping his harsh milieu. At home, his half-brother bullies him and he finds no comfort from his mother. At school the behaviour of teachers, career-councillors and headmasters ranges from violent to merely condescending. It's this anti-institutional side to the film that makes it so powerful. Billy basically knows that he'll probably end up down the mine and he knows that school isn't there for his pleasure or his fulfillment but to tell him what to do. So, unable to express himself at home or at school, Billy develops a passion for hawks and devotes great time and effort to the taming of a kestrel. This passion comes to symbolise both the boy's hopes and his identity.
Drama / Family
Drama / Family
Bullied at school and ignored and abused at home by his indifferent mother and older brother, Billy Casper (David Bradley), a 15-year-old working-class Yorkshire boy, tames and trains his pet kestrel falcon whom he names Kes. Helped and encouraged by his English teacher Mr. Farthing (Colin Welland) and his fellow students, Billy finally finds a positive purpose to his unhappy existence, until tragedy strikes.
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