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Kes More at IMDbPro »

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74 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Manchester United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

8/10
Author: ProperCharlie from The asylum for the confused and befuddled
22 April 2002

The beauty of this film lies in the simplicity and purity of its message. If you want to get along, especially in a Northern English mining town in the 60's, do not ever hope for anything better. If you do, the world's gonna come and kick you in the teeth. Discuss.

Billy Casper has an empty life. In trouble with the police for theft, he shares a bed with his brother (a discontent miner willing to take out his frustrations on just about anyone nearby), goes to a school with some dispiriting and brutally repressive teachers, and has nothing to look forward to but the day when he to descends into Hades to work the coalface.

Until Kes comes along. Kes is a kestrel that Billy rears and trains. Kes soars where Billy can only dream. Kes is hope.

Ken Loach is the master of social commentary and I think this is probably his best film. This film embodies what it means to be working class in all the best traditional ways. You work, you do not have ambition, you are surrounded by people who have accepted their lot in life, you cannot hope for better, you won't be allowed to hope for better. If that sounds brutal, it is and so is this film. You aren't told right and wrong, you are told what is. It is thrust in your face for you to deal with.

The best thing about this film are all the characters that surround Billy. All have had all spirit hammered out of them at an early age and are damned if any one else is going to have any. The teachers casual and resigned brutality living what remains of their dreams by playing against the boys on the football field and imagining they are Bobby Charlton (and still losing) is perfectly displayed. The shop keeper's humouring of childish enthusiasm because he knows it ain't going to last. And most of all Billy's brother's spiteful depression. His spirit has been freshly crushed and it still rankles.

And amidst this gloom shines Billy and Kes. They soar above this nightmare like Andy Dufrense soars when he plays opera to the Shawshank inmates. Ken is telling us hope is a jewel to be treasured especially when it is surrounded by those wishing it crushed and buried.

You must see this film, especially if you've seen the Shawshank Redemption. Be warned though, there is no redemption here. Don't be afraid of the accents you non-Yorkshire folk. Just think of it as Wallace and Gromit without the cheese.

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70 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Possibly the best British film of all time !

10/10
Author: Simon Langley (simlangley@evc.net) from Schiltigheim, France
30 August 1999

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. Historically, the film is an important one, because it's the first one that gives an accurate description of a working-class environment. There had been 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 film. For the first time, strong regional accents (Yorkshire) were allowed to flow freely. Finally, the story itself is extremely compelling. Without being at all demonstrative or heavy, the film is the most powerful indictment of the 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.

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36 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

At times clunky, but an outstandingly powerful social commentary.

8/10
Author: alshepherd from United Kingdom
29 September 2005

Kes is the story of a few weeks in the life of a schoolboy, Billy Casper, against the backdrop of social disintegration that was the north of England in the late 1960s. Billy finds and trains a kestrel, investing in it all the latent energy that his school and rough home life have suppressed, and finding in it a release from the all too present reality of the rest of his existence.

An outstanding performance from David Bradley as Billy glues together the sometimes shaky portrayals of the other characters. As a contemporary social commentary this is a film that has many of the elements you might expect. Billy has an impoverished family with an elder brother working down the pit and a single mother struggling to cope with the situation in which she finds herself. His school is staffed by teachers who react to their part in a failing system with aggression towards the pupils. And he's quite at home with petty crime, stealing a pint from the milkman and a volume to help him train the kestrel from the second hand bookshop. But the film is saved from cliché by the honesty of the acting and the quality of the direction; it seems at times as if we're watching a fly on the wall documentary. The reactions of the boys to the rant and the caning they receive for being caught smoking is entirely natural. Brian Glover as the sadistic games master is all too credible. And the employment interview is too close to my own experience to be fiction.

The film moves to its inevitable and unforgettable conclusion and we're left wondering what happened to Billy Casper after the filming finished.

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44 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

This is a classic.

9/10
Author: R-P-L
26 March 2001

If you are not from the north of England you may have difficulty with the dialogue in this film but dont let it put you off this is a masterpiece.The story of a teenage boy with no friends and no hope set in the mining heartland of yorkshire in the sixties is absolutely authentic. He finds salvation from the grim reality of his existence when he rears and trains a young kestrel, which is the only thing in his young life that has any meaning.David Bradley who plays Billy Casper in the leading role is superb.There are many scenes from the film that are absolute gems, but here are a few that warrant a special mention.Brian Glover playing the role of billys physical education teacher is out of this world, why he was never nominated as best supporting actor for an oscar i will never know.Colin Welland (later to become an oscar winner himself for screenplay of chariots of fire) was also brilliant as billys form teacher.The film reaches out to you on many levels. In me it stirred horror, anger, humour and tears.I am quite sure it will also do the same to anyone who views this timeless masterpiece.

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30 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

My best fillum

10/10
Author: alan-fraser7 from Glasgow
22 July 2004

My favourite film of all time. Admittedly I haven't seen this film ( movie ) for years. A stark portrayal of late sixties/ early seventies northern Britain at a time of ( still ) post war miserablism and not unlike my own school experience. Receiving " the belt " as punishment for little reason other than the teacher's inability to control a class or just their own boredom. Classic football ( soccer ) scene with the wonderful Brian Glover. Sigh. Did Ken Loach make a better film in the rest of his career? " My Name is Joe " was a great movie of desperation in the poverty stricken,drug addled, hinterland of 90's/2000's Scotland. Desperately sad, desperately funny. Kes,however has my vote as it was one of my earliest moving film experiences.

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Kes or when childhood is stolen.

8/10
Author: dbdumonteil
1 September 2001

From the start,the hero's future is at a complete standstill.His familiar background -an indifferent mother and a brute of a brother-leaves him no hope .His school seems an alien world,of which he cannot take advantage,where the adults are hostile.The gymnastics teacher is a failed football player,and now,with his students,he's still dreaming he's coaching his football team for glory.And because he 's getting old and embittered,he uses a scapegoat when things go wrong:and of course,he always chooses our unfortunate hero.The shower scene enhances ,so to speak,the psychological and pedagogical "aptitudes" of this dumb-and a bit sadistic-man.

So,the young boy needs someone to love,and because he cannot find one,he tames an hawk.This hawk epitomizes freedom,escape from this petty microcosm.In direct contrast to the gym teacher,appears the English teacher.He wants the young boy to give a presentation on his hawk.And,in front of a spellbound class,the dog has his day.Thanks to this clever man,the boy acquires self-confidence and maybe his studies will take a new turn.

But Kenneth Loach's characters rarely escape from their fate.Because of his brother's cruelty,all hopes will be blighted,and the boy's future will probably that of the two lads in "looks and smiles". Kenneth Loach or the wrong side of England.

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28 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Grim but Absolutely Captivating

10/10
Author: anonymous
10 November 1998

One of the defining films of my life. Very few films have come so close to accurately portraying Northern, English, Working Class life. Anyone from outside of this kind of community may find it grim and not appreciate the all the references. As someone who grew up at the same time and in a similar environment as the film then all I can see is the wit, spirit and sensitivity displayed in the face of individual and institutionalised brutality.

David Bradley as Billy is superb and even more amazing is the fact he did nothing before or since this film. All of the incidental characters are played by local residents - unfortunately this is sometimes clearly obvious. The football match however is, in my opinion, a classic cinematic moment.

The film has become even more poignant since many similar communities have since been devastated by the Thatcherite induced collapse of Britain's industrial base.

All in all a exceeding moving, funny, honest and captivating account of a young boy's life in a sometimes hostile, sometimes beautiful environment.

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

An Eagle for an Emperor

10/10
Author: Arthur Crown from United Kingdom
19 January 2006

Ken Loach's (1969) film of Barry Hines' novel 'A Kestrel for a Knave' is written with Tony Garnett (Producer of 'Cathy Come Home' for BBC TV). Set in a mining community in the north of England it tells the story of young schoolboy Billy Casper (Dai Bradley) and his unexpected attachment to a Kestrel.

We join Billy in a fatherless family where Mum (Lynne Perrie) is struggling to keep things together and retain some semblance of control over Billy's fiery elder brother Jud (Freddie Fletcher).

Suddenly we see the well-established northern working class preoccupation with keeping pigeons elevated to an altogether higher plane as Billy begins to rear a kestrel chick. We follow him as he takes on the most challenging project of his life to date and becomes totally engrossed in learning everything he can about this wonderful bird; soon well on his way to becoming expert in the ancient art of falconry.

At school, Billy finds support from English teacher Mr Farthing (Colin Welland) who is not slow to recognise the impact this bird has had upon Billy's otherwise fractured and impoverished home life.

As Billy's imagination soars with his developing rapport with the bird, we share his keen enthusiasm and rich understanding of the nature of this sharp and noble predator.

But in doing so, we pay the price when Billy's troubled home life intervenes and robs him of what has become the powerful symbol of his ability to transcend the limitations of the tough and unforgiving community of which he is inexorably a part.

This is a great film that captures the unique ability of young people to find meaning and fulfilment in the darkest and most unpromising situations.

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A pleasure to watch

8/10
Author: John Taylor (jdtaylor@btinternet.com) from Bedfordshire, England
10 April 2002

Kes is a film i was aware about all the way back to when i was at school (it was made the year after i was born)but i never got around to seeing it until now and boy am i pleased i did. Rarely is there a film that exudes charm like Kes. The acting is not brilliant , neither is the script but that is what makes this film such a joy. It made me feel i was back at school amongst the self important jumped up teachers and the cruel kids .It made me remember the times when i was a teenager that i didnt care for at the time yet it also made me long to be that age again! The story is of a young lad who through having a bad time at school and with his family he finds solice in training a young bird of prey. David bradley (Casper) is excellent ,as is Brian Glover as the P.E teacher who likes to think he is Bobby Charlton. The scene when he takes the boys out to play football is brilliant . The cinemetography is superb and the haunting music contributes to what can only be described as Very good movie. 8 out of 10.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A boy's transporting friendship with a kestrel hawk.

Author: Gerald A. DeLuca (italiangerry@gmail.com) from United States
29 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Some spoilers) I first saw Ken Loach's admirable and indeed unforgettable film in London in 1970 at the esteemed Academy Cinema, now long-gone. I had been wanting to see it again for decades, but its general unavailability in the U.S. made that difficult. I was fortunate enough to see it again recently on video, and the movie hasn't diminished one iota in my estimation.

Based on a novel by Barry Hines, it is set and shot entirely in gritty working-class Barnsley in Northern England and spoken with a local accent that would benefit from the use of subtitles, especially for Americans. The young subject of the movie is a boy named Billy Casper, dour, picked on, quasi-delinquent, whose future employment prospects are grim, whose great adventure and escape comes with his finding and taming a beautiful kestrel hawk whom he names Kes.

There are great moments in the movie in which Billy trains the bird and establishes a relationship with it that seems to be more fulfilling than any human relations he, as a perennial outsider, is able to sustain.

The best scene for me is the one in a class at school when he talks about the kestrel to his classmates who are rapt enough to reward him with applause at the end. The scene possesses a sterling beauty capable of producing tears. The teacher, played by Colin Welland, is a sympathetic adult friend and unlike all the tormenting Dickensian characters we see among the adults. Billy's brutishly insensitive older brother becomes responsible for the kestrel's death at the end and seemingly destroys the boy's world.

Young David Bradley as the 15 year old Billy is stupendous. The direction of Ken Loach is masterful. I believe his "Kes" is one of the defining landmarks of modern British cinema.

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