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Kes
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10 from votes
Release: 3 April 1970 (UK) /

Kes

Genre: Drama, Family
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: 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 alfiehitchie

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Critic Reviews


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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