Independent Films, Film Profiles
Kes is a 1969 British film from director Ken Loach and producer Tony Garnett. The film is based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave written by the Barnsley born author Barry Hines in 1968. The film is ranked seventh in the British Film Institute's Top Ten (British) Films.The film focuses on Billy Casper, who has little hope in life beyond becoming a coal miner and is bullied both at home, by his physically and verbally abusive brother, Jud, as well as at school. He is mischievous himself; he steals milk from milk floats, gets other students into trouble and generally fights and misbehaves. Billy comes over as an emotionally neglected boy with little self-respect. His mother refers to him in the film as a "hopeless case".Outside cadging money, smoking cigarettes and day-dreaming at school Billy has no positive interests. His greatest fear is ending up working down the pit as a coal miner but he has no apparent escape route from what would ultimately be his fate. That is until he finds an outlet from his pitiful existence through training a kestrel that he takes from a nest on a farm. His interest in learning falconry prompts Billy to "borrow" a book on the subject from a secondhand book shop as he cannot get a borrower's card for the Public Library.As the relationship between Billy and "Kes", the kestrel, during the training improves so does Billy's outlook and horizons. For the first time in the film Billy receives praise, from his English teacher after delivering an impromptu talk on his relationship with the bird.However, Billy intentionally fails to place a bet on a horse for his brother, instead keeping the money for himself (to buy chips) as Billy assumes it is unlikely to win. When the horse does win and Jud receives no winnings he "pays" Billy back by killing his kestrel. At this point, near the end of the film, this is the bleakest moment for Billy, as it represents his failure to escape his fate as a miner.
Year of Production: 1969
Length: 110 min
Country: United States
- Ken Loach
- Tony Garnett
- David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie, Colin Welland, Brian Glover, George Speed