Named by the British Film Institute as one of the ten best British films of the century, Ken Loach’s Kes, is cinema’s quintessential portrait of working-class Northern England. Billy (an astonishingly naturalistic David Bradley) is a fifteen-year-old miner’s son whose close bond with a wild kestrel provides him with a spiritual escape from his dead-end life. Kes established the sociopolitical engagement and artistic brilliance of its filmmaker, and pushed the British “angry young man” film of the sixties into a new realm of authenticity, using real locations and nonprofessional actors. Loach’s poignant coming-of-age drama remains its now legendary director’s most beloved and influential film. –The Criterion Collection
Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it’s virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, he branched out into the theater, performing with a touring repertory company. This led to television, where in alliance with producer ‘Tony Garnett’ he produced a series of docudramas, most notably the devastating “Cathy Come Home” episode of “The Wednesday Play” (1964), whose impact was so massive that it led directly to a change in the homeless laws. He made his feature debut Poor Cow (1967) the following year, and with “Kes”, he produced what is now acclaimed as one of the finest films ever made in Britain. However, the following two decades saw his career in the doldrums with his films poorly distributed (despite the obvious quality of work such as The Gamekeeper (1968) (TV) and Looks and Smiles (1981… read more
Childhood as a revolving door of oppression and torment. And though it is most appropriate with the ending it has, I still felt a bit of something of missing. Even still, it is something kids in their teens today could see and identify with; just because you're young doesn't mean your life is any easier than anybody else's, and for some youngsters it's even harder.
A marvellous film, brilliant on every level. One the best of the 1960s, personally. And I can assure you one more thing: there's the England inside.
Profiles of Ken Loach in the run-up to a retrospective in London emphasize his directorial style.
Even as he turns 75 today, Ken Loach carries on working. The BBC spotted him just the other day shooting in a Scottish distillery; his next
Along with the likes of 400 Blows, Los Olvidados, Pixote, Mouchette, and Shoeshine, Kes portrays a naturalistic bleak portrait of the difficulty of being a youth in an underprivileged environment where… read review
Celebrated socialist filmmaker Ken Loach worked with Barry Hines in adapting the latter’s GCSE English set text “A Kestrel for a Knave” into his second cinematic feature following “Poor Cow” which… read review