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
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 »
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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