KEN Loach’s portrait of the working class of northern England in the 1960s is just as powerful now as it was almost half a century ago.
Kes was one of Ken Loach’s first films, released in 1969. The director is still making great films with I, Daniel Blake recently making the headlines.
But Kes is remembered and still holds a special place for many people because of how moving it is. A masterclass in naturalistic filmmaking, Loach manages to potently explore class, education and impoverishment all through eyes of a child.
This special edition Blu-ray release is a great chance to rediscover the story set in Barnsley in which you immediately root for 15-year-old Billy (Dai Bradley). Billy is a good kid but with an absent dad, a distant mother and a brother who bullies him, he constantly told otherwise.
With few opportunities to better himself he is set up to fail and is looked down upon by authority figures in his school.
Brian Glover is brilliant as the vindictive PE teacher Mr Sugden and so is Bob Bowes as out of touch head teacher Mr Gryce.
Billy finds solace and a way to focus his energies and frustrations when he begins to use his free time to train a kestrel. As with most of Loach’s films, there is a political edge to Kes but the story also transcends that with the kestrel representing the universal feeling ohope.
The powerful scene in which Billy explains to Mr Farthing (Colin Welland), the one teacher that cares about his welfare, why he enjoys his time with Kes still resonates today. And the ending, which pulls no punches, is still just as heartbreaking.