Saturday, July 23, 2011

507. KES (1969)

Running Time: 110 minutes
Directed By: Ken Loach
Written By: Tony Garnett, Ken Loach, from the novel A Kestrel For A Knave by Barry Hines
Main Cast: David Bradley, Lynne Perrie, Freddie Fletcher, Colin Welland, Brian Glover


I mentioned earlier this week, in my "Update" post, that I'd be tackling a large number of films from the 1960s during this 100 films and "Kes" is our first. "Kes" is currently streaming over at Netflix and is an above average British film.

Billy Casper (Bradley) is a 15-year old boy who lives with his mother and brother, sharing a bed with the latter. Billy's brother Judd (Fletcher) is both physically and verbally abusive towards him, constantly calling him names and slapping him around. Billy has a paper route to help out his fledgling family and attends school, where he himself is no stranger to a bit of trouble. One day, while walking home from school, Billy spots a falcon flying through the air and manages to capture it and bring it home, where he plans to train it. He names the falcon "Kes" and trains it on a leash, feeding it bits of beef. Billy finds solace in the falcon, using his interest in falconry and his desire to train the bird as an outlet for his troubled youth and as a means to escape the bullying of his brother, teachers and school mates. One teacher, his English teacher, takes an interest and pride in Billy's new found hobby and encourages him to keep at it.

"Kes" is pretty much your typical average film. There's nothing blatantly terrible, while at the same time there's really nothing outstanding either. I guess there are a few scenes that stand above the rest. I think the best scene comes when Billy and his physical education teacher, Mr. Sugden (Glover), come into contact and a soccer game ensues. Otherwise the story, in my opinion, just seemed a bit stale. The film, as I had read it, was supposed to be about a boy who gets bullied, but ultimately finds solace when he adopts a falcon and begins to train it. While that doesn't sound like the most exciting offering the book has given me, I kept an open mind and went in looking for a good kick-off to my sixties fest. The film, however, really wasn't about that at all, as I perceived it. Sure, Billy was bullied by his brother, but isn't that kind of normal? Aren't older brother's supposed to bully their younger brothers? Mine didn't, but I've heard it's fairly normal and not extraordinary. Otherwise, Billy isn't really bullied at all. Sure the gym teacher gives him a hard time, but he gives all of the students a hard time. And yes, his there is a particular classmate who gives him a bit of trouble, but Billy fights back and gets in a few licks.

What the film is really about, is a boy who is simply troubled and who is mischievous himself and who finds an outlet in his new falcon. But even then, that's not really an extraordinary story, is it? I'm ragging on this film for no reason really, as it wasn't all that bad...but then again, it wasn't all that good either. It was really just an average film, at best and nothing I'd have included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"...but that's me.

RATING: 6/10 Like I said, nothing particularly bad or particularly good either and ultimately I'd check it out and let yourself be the judge. It's certainly worth at least one look.


July 23, 2011 8:54pm


  1. I thought Kes was a very wonderful film - it's my all time favourite movie. Good review, though.

  2. Thanks for the comment Steven. I never try to argue with anyone who likes something that I wasn't crazy about, I'm simply glad they were able to find something in it that I wasn't. Thanks again for the comment!

  3. I'm rather with you Movieman.. Again, another of those gritty 'Grim up North' social issue Brit movies I usualy like.. but this one somehow failed to engage me. It should have done, and (Steven, as its your faveourite), I feel is probably my fault. It is a very well known and respected film in Britain, and not one I expected to be know in America.
    Incidently MM, notice something? A notable exception to your poster theory of 'American Vertical, British Horizontal'. As I said before, never thought of it till you mentioned it, but I've strarted looking now...


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