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.Written by
According to a BBC Radio 4 interview, the child actors were actually caned on the hand by school headmaster (who was the real school headmaster). They were paid an additional 50p (about £8.28 in 2020) for their troubles. See more »
In the football match, Jim is selected to play for Sugden's team but ends up protesting about the allowed goal his captain, Mr Sugden, scores. See more »
The majority of the crew were listed simply under the heading "This film was made by..." without each person's specific job title (director of photography, sound recordist, editor etc) being given. See more »
Some scenes, including the opening scene and the scene when Jud bullies Billy for having a book, were re-dubbed for the American market to be in a more understandable form of English for Americans. This soundtrack was then used in the UK market for VHS and DVD releases in the 1980s and 1990s, but the 2011 DVD and Blu-Ray releases use the original soundtrack in Yorkshire dialect. See more »
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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