A film by Ken Loach
1969 /UK / 110 mins
5th June 2016
5.45 pm / Perks Mini theater
Director Ken Loach’s masterpiece Kes is the moving and stark portrait of a young boy, Billy, who finds, befriends, tames, and trains a kestrel, aptly named Kes. This boy and this bird, and this film, do not attain, nor do they even seek to begin with, the sort of sentimentality that a movie about a child and an animal can typically denote. It’s much more than that, much more honest than that.
The film follows Billy as he tries to make his way through the grim and at times quite aggressive world of his downtrodden, working-class English town, seeking solace in his time with Kes, finding a refuge from the hostilities of family strife, torment at school, and an otherwise stagnant existence; shots of the bird soaring freely through the overcast skies stand as sharp contrasts and perhaps as sources of envy for the boy who seems to find abuse and confinement at every turn.
Contrasting the desolation and spiritual poverty of Billy's oppressively confining environment against his liberating, almost meditative ritual of kestrel training in the open field, Loach creates a sublimely transitory, yet indelible image of natural communion, existential purpose, and transcendence.
Kenneth Loach (born June 17, 1936, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England) British film director whose works are considered landmarks of social realism. Loach studied law at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, but while there he became interested in acting. After graduating in 1957, he spent two years in the Royal Air Force and then began a career in the dramatic arts.
Loach continued to address social issues on television and later in theatrical releases as well. In the 1960s Loach directed several docudramas for a television series called The Wednesday Play. One of the productions, Cathy Come Home (1966), explored the disintegration of a working-class family and examined the intertwined issues of unemployment and homelessness. In doing so, it helped bring the discussion of homelessness into the British mainstream. He has been honored with awards and praises for all over the world ever since.
One can but admire Loach for relentlessly sticking to his task, repeatedly championing the underdog by revealing the hardships and struggles of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Few directors have been as consistent in their themes and their filmic style, or as principled in their politics, as Loach has in a career spanning five decades. Without doubt he is Britain's foremost political filmmaker.