Kes

1969

Action / Drama / Family

22
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 33 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 91% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.9/10 10 23124 23.1K

Director

Top cast

David Bradley as Billy
Duggie Brown as Milkman
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
779.09 MB
1204*720
English 2.0
PG-13
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
Seeds 2
1.65 GB
1792*1072
English 2.0
PG-13
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
Seeds 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by screenman 8 / 10

The Other Billy

So many plaudits have been heaped upon 'Billy Elliot' that it seems a whole generation have missed out on his earlier namesake in the far grittier and more honest 'Kes'.

The similarities between the two movies are such that Billy Elliot is almost 'Kes' revisited.

Both works feature emerging adolescent working-class boys called Billy. Each appears destined for subterranean servitude down the coal mine. And each wants something more meaningful. Where they differ is in the degree of support they receive from their families and teachers. It seems that between 1969 and 1983 (when the latter is set) a cultural sea-change has taken place.

Of the two, I rate 'Kes' as far truer to life. Whereas 'Billy Elliot' enjoys a fairy-story (no pun intended) happy ending; no such opportunity exists for Billy Casper.

It's grim, it's gritty, and all of those other words that are employed to describe the hardships of working-class life. Billy Casper is a no-hoper. Nobody has ever taken a personal interest in his welfare. He has no judicious father to ensure that he applies himself at school, and his mother is continuously pre-occupied with house-keeping, her job, and her own personal needs. At the same time, his teachers are the clearest evidence possible that 'those who can, do; whilst those who can't, teach'. I grew up knowing their stamp only too well. It was usually imprinted across my hand.

Low-grade civil servants with no interest in people least of all working-class kids simply go through the motions of their employment. They're safe and salaried; why should they care? There's no need to exert yourself for kids in a mining community anyway; the pit will always find work for them. Really; it's all they're fit for.

We follow Billy through his daily grind like a fly-on-the-wall crew of reality TV. Except that this really is reality. There's no playing to the camera, no amateur theatricals, no slick one-liners or seemingly even a prepared script. People assume their roles with a lack of emphasis and drama, a listless indifference that is entirely believable. Sometimes it's frighteningly well observed when we see individuals obsessing over the petty details of their lives.

Almost without any preamble, Billy steals a Kestrel chick and raises it to adulthood. Referencing books stolen from the library or elsewhere, he teaches himself the art and craft of falconry. He becomes so adept that one of his more enlightened teachers asks him to give a talk to the class. It has the muddled monotone delivery that is 24-carat gold kid-speak. This teacher even accompanies him during a training exercise. Kindly as the man may be, he still doesn't realise the potential that the boy clearly possesses or offer any guidance to an alternative career.

Life beyond 'Kes' the all-absorbing kestrel, assumes an even bleaker and more meaningless aspect than ever. Billy fails to apply himself to almost everything expected of him. Disastrously, that includes his elder brother's gambling whims.

At a moment of crisis the kestrel is killed, just as you know it must be - though the the shock and dismay is just as poignant for all that.

The kestrel is a representation of Billy's ultimately false hope. It could never last, it could never take him anywhere. And with the birds death, his underground destiny is sealed for ever.

This movie introduced the excellent Brian Glover as a bumptious PE teacher - which is actually what he was at the time of his discovery by Ken Loach. Like so many others in the drama; all he had to do was play to type. He reprised the role in a later TV drama called 'Is That Your Body, Boy?'

For those not familiar with working-class Yorkshire life, 'Kes' was - and is - often boring, dismal, and largely incomprehensible. It would need subtitles if exported to America. But for those in the know, this movie is as authentic as drama gets. Your can just about smell the stale cabbage in the houses, and feel the cold, searching chill of a Yorkshire morning at its dampest.

Of all kitchen-sink dramas, I believe this is the most authentic, beating the likes of 'Saturday Night & Sunday Morning', 'A Kind Of Loving', 'A Taste Of Honey' or the mesmerising 'Whistle Down The Wind'.

It is, by definition, a classic. Though it may still be an acquired taste.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 8 / 10

Kes or when childhood is stolen.

From the start,the hero's future is at a complete standstill.His familiar background -an indifferent mother and a brute of a brother-leaves him no hope .His school seems an alien world,of which he cannot take advantage,where the adults are hostile.The gymnastics teacher is a failed football player,and now,with his students,he's still dreaming he's coaching his football team for glory.And because he 's getting old and embittered,he uses a scapegoat when things go wrong:and of course,he always chooses our unfortunate hero.The shower scene enhances ,so to speak,the psychological and pedagogical "aptitudes" of this dumb-and a bit sadistic-man.

So,the young boy needs someone to love,and because he cannot find one,he tames an hawk.This hawk epitomizes freedom,escape from this petty microcosm.In direct contrast to the gym teacher,appears the English teacher.He wants the young boy to give a presentation on his hawk.And,in front of a spellbound class,the dog has his day.Thanks to this clever man,the boy acquires self-confidence and maybe his studies will take a new turn.

But Kenneth Loach's characters rarely escape from their fate.Because of his brother's cruelty,all hopes will be blighted,and the boy's future will probably that of the two lads in "looks and smiles". Kenneth Loach or the wrong side of England.

Reviewed by lee_eisenberg 10 / 10

birds of a feather

I just recently saw Ken Loach's "Poor Cow", dealing with a working-class woman trying to make her way in life. Now I've seen "Kes", which portrays a similar topic. Young Billy Casper (David Bradley) lives a depressing life in a bleak industrial town in England. In school, he suffers beatings from the headmaster. His only pleasure in life is his relationship with a common kestrel whom he befriends.

This movie really gives one a sense of the class system, as Billy's only viable career is a dangerous job in a factory (or coal mine, I wasn't totally sure; either way, not a safe job), and people at school always make fun of him. If his friendship with the kestrel is a form of escapism, then you can't blame him. Although I should identify that the end is almost certain to shock you.

All in all, I'm glad that I saw this movie. From what I've seen so far, Ken Loach appears to be a really good director.

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