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This is an old favourite film of mine. I always remember watching this when I was at home poorly from school. I was quite excited to buy it when I saw the DVD in HMV a few years ago.
The book is based on a working class family from Yorkshire. In rural Yorkshire at that time there weren't many job opportunities for children heading towards adulthood and most people ended up working down the pits. The family in the film has 3 characters, the mum (played by Lynne Perrie who was Ivy Tilsley in Coronation St) and her 2 sons Billy and Jud played by David Bradley and Freddie Fletcher. Billy is about 13 years old and is not very interested in school, more interested in mucking about and fooling around. One day he finds a kestrel (a bird) and forms a wonderful connection with this bird. He instantly becomes almost best friends with the bird and names him Kes. He takes brilliant care of Kes and spends all his free time and money on looking after him and it shows how sensitive a lad he really is and how responsible he can be.
Soon he begins to do better in school as a result of his close bond with Kes and it is so nice to see Billy coming out of his shell and turning into a man. Unfortunately he's never had a fantastic relationship with his older brother Jud and things come to a nasty head one day, the outcome of which I won't reveal.
It's a lovely film and the characters are so cleverly written. The film is humorous but there are many poignant moments and a couple of weepy scenes as well. The film is actually based on a book called `A Kestrel for a Knave' by Barry Hines so some people might be familiar with that story. The film has always been rated very highly and according to Wikipedia, the film is ranked seventh in the British Film Institute's Top Ten (British) Films and among the top ten in its list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
The film is 1 hour 46 minutes long and is rated PG. I have seen it for sale on Amazon for just £3.49 which is a bargain! Definitely worth a watch.
Interesting to think that this gritty and very moving film faced difficulties of distribution when it first appeared because of the(entirely authentic) Northern accents of the actors. It was thought that Southerners would find it impenetrable. It's an outstanding film from an excellent book, Barry Hines's 'A Kestrel for a Knave' (in fact, the book is possibly even better than the film, which cannot reproduce in filmic terms its slow, sad, nostalgic conclusion, with Billy's visit to the old cinema). Billy Casper has almost nothing going for him - Mum is more interested in her pathetic 'boyfriend', big brother knocks him about, school is irrelevant and is as little interested in him as he is in it. And then he gets Kes, the kestrel and, mesmerised by its beauty and power, displays intelligence, resourcefulness and commitment that no-one knew he had. Mr. Farthing, the English teacher, is sympathetic, but fate intervenes and it all ends unhappily, with Billy sinking back into his lonely hopelessness. Episodes in the film are genuinely funny - a wonderful school P.E. lesson on the football filed with Brian Glover as a marvellous PE teacher such as, perhaps, we all recognise and wish we had never met - but there can be no silver lining in Billy's world. It is beautifully set, acted and directed and is in every way outstanding.
I was first introduced to the film "Kes" when I was at school. This film got a lot of kids in my school interested in English that were never interested before seeing it. Our school was not the best school in the area and was in Yorkshire I think some kids simply could connect with the film.
Kes was produced in 1969 and was based on the book A Kestrel for a Knave. This book was written by Barnsley Author Barry Hines in 1968.
The film was about a boy named Billy Casper who had all sorts of problems with being bullied and had very little hopes of a great future. He gets bullied at school by teachers and other students. Also he has problems with his brother (Jud) that beats him and insults him. His mother even says he is a "hopeless case".
Eventually Billy finds a way of escaping his life with kestrel. He goes to the library to get a book on falconry but he can't get a card to take a book out so he gets a book from a second hand book shop. Billy then trains the kestrel that he calls "Kes".
Things start to look up for Billy as he has something in his life (Kes) that gives him a meaning. His develops a great relationship with the bird and uses this experience to talk about it in class. He gets credit from his teacher for this talk something very alien to Billy.
In the end Billy has a run in with his brother over a bet that his brother asked him to place. Billy decides to use the money on chips as he is sure it won't win. The consequences of this will last in your memory for a long time after the film finished.
It is a classic film that has its high's & low's and is a very down to earth film that takes you back to how it was in those days. Magical story set in the West Riding of Yorkshire with great phrases and saying.
Who can ever forget the funny scenes of Brian Glover as the sports teacher Mr Sugden taking the football lessons. Pushing the kids out the way and trying as hard as he could to score a goal against the much younger and smaller kids. Glover with his bald head, stocky build and strong Yorkshire accent made this scene unforgettable.
Kes is a film based on the novel "Kestrel For a Knave" by Barry Hines. The result is a hardy northern drama which is familar to many as many schools have used the book as a study book for many years. The film version certainly doesn't disappoint.
I find that the film represents the lost generation of children who were let down by school and whose hopes and dreams coud never be fully recognised. Billy Casper (played by David Bradley) is the youngest who the film is based around, and he is achieving little at school until he finds an interest outside school looking after a kestrel which he has found.
The cruelty of the environment which Casper finds himself in is replicated in both his home-life, a single parent family and older brother who has no respect for Casper, and a school environment which treats him with contempt, with one exception of a caring and interested teacher, especially the PE teacher played by Brian Glover.
That school environment is a gritty representation of what many children have been through, especially for those who were never very sporty at school. Casper's reaction to the futile way much of his school ran is in places quite comedic, an almost black humour based on his situation.
The film is sad, without revealing the outcome, there is a sadness as Casper's dream is shattered. Overall though you know that the real sadness is that a bright boy such as Casper, who is able to show such compassion, dedication and love, was passed over by the education system.
There are limited additional features on the DVD, which is disappointing, but is inevitable for a film which was made in 1969. David Bradley is still an actor today and it would have been a superb addition to the DVD if maybe he had been able to do a commentary on what it was like making the film and the memories which he had.
A thought-provoking film.
Kes-Act 3 Scenes 24-25 Hines’ novels are mainly about working class people and their lives. Obviously the film was based upon the novel. They are about people who live in council estates and small terraced houses. He feels a strong sense of social injustice for them. The setting of Hines’s novels is the working class community of his native West Yorkshire. But all his pieces of work have dealt different sections of the community, a new experience or dilemma, encountered by an individual from this class. Kes is no exception. His point of succour and fulfilment a hostile and crippling environment lies outside society. The hawk embodying strength, pride, and independence. The use of bad language and violence is important in the two new scenes. This is because it’s a way of expressing brutal realism and the shocking aspects of working class life. Other two shocking aspects are cruelty and intimacy. The first word of the book is a verbal assault and the beginning is very abrupt and you can tell which way the book is heading. Swearing, arguments and violence all contribute therefore making it very shocking from start to end. The last scene shows Jud not sharing and that he is selfish waking Billy up for no reason. Bad Language- The use of bad language constantly runs throughout the book. The first word in the play is ‘bloody thing’ which points out straight away that this play is not going to be very pretty. In my two scenes I have included bad language. The word ‘bastard’, this word is very strong language and it is used several times in the play. Example, when Jud comes home drunk ‘pig-how-so-drunken-bastard’. I have included this word in my scene because the shocking realism was in the way Hines wrote. Other swear words used in the play are, bugger (example scene 1 ‘they wouldn’t have a weedy little bugger like you’), bloody and sh
ut it. I have included ‘shut it’ in my scene as the last scene corresponds to the first. Another form of bad language is shouting and arguing. There is a lot of this in the play and I have included it in the final two scenes. Examples of this in the first and last scene are: ‘I said ‘shut it’’; Billy and Jud argue about working down a pit ‘I don’t know but I’m not working down a pit’. I have also included arguing in my last scene, example ‘Shut it you cockroach! Don’t you think I know!’ Violence- Violence is the most brutal and shocking aspect of the play. It is the best way to get the point across to people that this is the way the social class in Britain is. Examples of violence in the play are, when Jud thumps Billy(scene 1); when McDowell and Billy have a fight(scene ); when the principle canes the students(scene ); and when Jud kills Kes(scene ). The last example was the most brutal and shocking, as it was the only thing that gave Billy independence from his working class life. In the final scene I didn’t use violence but I did hint about it. ‘Don’t make me hurt you like I did yesterday’ this is because at the end of the play it was best to end on a little softer note though I used bad language and cruelty. Intimacy- Again intimacy is another shocking aspect of the play. Thogh it doesn’t occur much it is still effective. Example- Billy and Jud sharing a bed. This is embarrassing to the two boys and there private life. I have used this at the start in the last scene. The farmer was introduced in the second last scene. He had certain characteristics and I have included them in. Not very calm, his first word in the book are ‘Hey what are you doing?’. I have included this also as the first words he says in scene 24. Becomes calmer when you talk about s
omething he likes or dislikes. Example ‘There’s no nest up there son’. This is why the farmer starts to talk to Billy when he sees that he is very upset. Gets angry quickly ‘ Hey! Go through the gate not over the wall’. I have also included this phrase ‘C’mon, don’t ave all day! Me herd are getting hungry’. Both of these phrases show that the farmer gets angry very quickly. <br> These three important characteristics of the farmer are included when he is introduced onto the scene. The final scene is very similar to the first and this is because I am trying to show symbolism in the story. I want it to end on a soft note but then again the scene must have its shocking aspects like the first. The symbolism represents that nothing has changed for Billy in reality. He basically ended up where he began and the social injustice carries on. But there’s one difference and that is that Billy has tasted independence from the injustice through Kes. The symbolism in the final scene is very important. It points out that people don’t change when going through a rough period. Jud is the best example. Even though he killed his brothers hawk and made him go through hell he constantly still bees cruel to him. This is because society has made him like this as he was just like Billy and then he was thrown into a pit and his life has went downhill from there.
I know I've stolen a quote from Eastenders but it is the best way of describing the wonderful film, Kes. If you're over 30 you may remember the film as you could have even studied it at school. I was introduced to the film by my dad. He took me to see it when I was a kid and I have never forgotten it. It has overtaken all the Disney films, Star Wars, Grease and even Silent Running as my all time favourite film. Kes tells the remarkable story of a Yorkshire lad called Billy Casper and his relationship with a falcon. The young boy finds the bird, nurtures it and eventually trains it to fly. But before you dimiss this as a kid's flick-about a child and an animal(see Free Willy Andre, Shiloh, etc)the relationship between Billy and Kes acts as a metaphor. Billy gets more respect from the falcon than he does from his school teacher, his peers or his family. His mum incidentally is played by Lynne Perrie (Ivy Tilsley in Corrie- and boy can she act. Billy is an outcast, a poor lad who is intelligent beyond his years but nobody is willing to give him a chance. The scenes featuring him helping the falcon to fly are truly remarkable. You will feel a lump appear in your throat whatever your perspective is on animals. Other standout scenes feature the late Brian Glover as a Sports teacher from hell whose bullying tactics send all the lads at the school reeling. Kes is shot like a documentary and I think this is whay it has left a mark on me for all this time as I thought it was 'real' as a child! I think we've all had teachers like Billy had- the "Do as I say, not as I do" kind! The film's director Ken Loach is well known for his gritty approach to directing. David Bradley was chosen to play Billy for because he looked like an ordinary Northern lad with no real acting experience. Loach then coaxed a flesh n' blood performance from the young boy rather than a RADA influenced
'child actor' by numbers which you see all the time. Going back to the plot- as the kestrel becomes more confident about catching it's own prey and more comfortable flying- so does Billy. The absolute standout scene is when Billy talks about the falcon and how he trained it to the whole class. This is the first time that Billy has felt confident in the class. He forgets that his peers are in the room as he describes beautifully how the bird trusts him and that he has named it Kes. The best films for me enable you to look back at your childhood. Then they take you a journey to revisit the humourous and the poignant moments when adults treated you as if you were 5 years old when in reality you felt like saying: "I'm 16, Mum!" Unemployment looms for Billy but he decides to make his own mark in life- however trivial onlookers may find his hobby. It is his one escape. So, you see whether it's stripping, ballet or kestrel training, the underlying theme of the film is just as relevant today. If you liked Billy Elliot and The Full Monty, this is where it all started. The mixture of Northern grit with a sense of humour and a defiant "life will get better" approach to life are all here in the roots of Kes. Call me old fashioned but Kes is an evergreen classic which kids today will still enjoy, as unlike Pokemon the underlying message has no sell by date. --------------------------------------------- IF YOU WANT TO BUY KES If you wanna take a chance on Kes, you can buy it for £5 from all video shops or from Blackstar/Amazon online.
This was only Ken Loach's second cinema feature but it still ranks as one of his finest and most moving films. Billy, a disaffected young lad living on a soulless Barnsley estate, finds a fledgling kestrel and, for the first time in his life, feels his imagination gripped. With infinite patience--and a book on falconry nicked from a local bookstore--he starts to train the bird. There's no boy-and-his-pet sentimentality here: the relationship between Kes the bird and the puny, taciturn Billy is the kinship, full of wary respect, between two wild creatures, and when Kes for the first time flies free and returns to Billy's wrist, the sense of exhilaration is overwhelming. Although Loach never rams his message home, it's clear that Billy stands for a whole generation of youngsters whose potential, barring some such chance event, will never be even fractionally realised. Chris Menges' photography brings out all the austere beauty of the Yorkshire locations, and Loach draws believable performances from his largely non-professional cast--especially the 14-year-old David Bradley, stunningly convincing as Billy. And anyone who has ever suffered under a bullying, self-satisfied sports teacher will squirm with recognition at the brilliant cameo from the late Brian Glover. --Philip Kemp