47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Ken Loach, UK, 1970, 112 minutes
Kes is Ken Loach's most acclaimed film. Shot in Barnsley with a largely unknown cast, it's a highly engaging tale about Billy Casper (David Bradley), a fifteen year-old boy whose independent nature doesn't gel with the rigid authoritarianism and conformity that characterise his wasted school life. It is only through the acquisition and training of a young kestrel hawk that his existence is given meaning. It allows him the kind of fulfillment and liberation that his family or school life could never provide. For once his life has a focus - he glimpses the fact that it is possible to escape from his depressing working class environment.
Using real settings with real people, Kes is a film that speaks directly to the viewer. It's a warmly humanist work that avoids the temptation to lapse into sentimentality. The script by Barry Hines' adapted from his novel, is very honest and Chris Menges' cinematography is striking. The acting is generally excellent Bradley is a revelation as the boy and the casting of Colin Welland as the one sympathetic schoolteacher works well.
Review by Stephen Townsend
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93