Kes (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes


Kes (1969)



Critic Consensus: A harrowing coming of age tale told simply and truly, Kes is a spare and richly humane tribute to the small pockets of beauty to be found in an oppressive world.

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Movie Info

In this 1969 Ken Loach film, a 15-year-old named Billy Casper (played by acting newcomer David Bradley) suffers abuse both at home and at school in Yorkshire, England. At his home in the working-class section of Barnsley, Billy's brother beats him and his family neglects him. At school, most of his teachers ridicule and reject him, especially sadistic Mr. Sugden (Brian Glover. Like other downtrodden children in an outmoded social system favoring the ruling class, Billy appears headed for a menial job with no future. Consequently, he has no motivation and nothing to look forward to, until the day he finds a kestrel -- a European falcon with the ability to hover against strong wind. The bird, a fledgling, is akin to the boy, who must withstand winds of his own. It is not surprising, therefore, that Billy finds meaning in befriending and caring for the baby kestrel. He raises, nurtures, and trains the falcon, whom he calls "Kes." Its development gives him hope that he too will one day develop, that he too will gain the skills to fly against the wind. Then Billy opts to spend his brother's track money on food for Kes, which sets the stage for a grave disagreement betwen the young men and an unhappy outcome. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovi

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Lynne Perrie
as Mrs. Casper
David Bradley (II)
as Billy Casper
Lynne Perrie
as Mrs. Casper
Colin Welland
as Mr. Farthing
Brian Glover
as Mr. Sugden
Bob Bowes
as Mr. Gryce
Trevor Hasketh
as Mr. Crossley
Russell Geoffrey Banks
as Mathematics Teacher
Zoe Sutherland
as Librarian
Joe Miller
as Mrs. Casper's Friend
Joey Kaye
as Comedian at Pub
Bernard Atha
as Youth Employment Officer
Robert Naylor
as MacDowell
David Glover
as Tibbutt
Stephen Crossland
as Billy's Friend
George Speed
as Billy's Friend
Frank Norton
as Billy's Friend
Martin Harley
as Younger Boy
Bill Dean
as Fish and Chip Shop Man
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News & Interviews for Kes

Critic Reviews for Kes

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (14)

Kes, admirably photographed by Chris Menges (who was camera operator on Poor Cow) is not to be lightly dismissed; and Loach's success with young players especially makes one eager to see his forthcoming film for the Save the Children Fund.

March 16, 2015 | Full Review…

One of the nation's finest film-makers at an early peak.

March 16, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Kes is one of the most astute, engaged films about education and what it takes for kids to be excited about learning or passionate about anything, really, whether in the classroom or roaming the fields with a feathered friend.

March 14, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

The politics of the schoolyard are more important than the politics of London in Kes, and though he finds himself continuously ridiculed, Billy can always come back to his beloved kestrel.

February 21, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Seen today, it still cries its authentic song of rage. It still cuts like a knife.

September 9, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Jaunty, sad, poetic, Kes is so humane it makes you tremble.

September 9, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kes

An achingly beautiful tale. The bucolic music and the landscapes wandered by the formidable protagonist child and his trained kestrel, embellish the cold and austere north of England. The child's tender look upon the bird is that of yearning, of high spirit and care free mind, far beyond the predicaments of acceptance raised in his school and in his own home. Its gritty, unapologetic and sometimes despairing naturalism hits delicate fibres.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


[img][/img] This much adored Ken Loach picture is a likable, smart and rightfully depressing film. However for me there was a small sense of a lack of emotional involvement. The tone of it frequently changed from being a coming of age drama to a family film and then back again, which I found slightly confusing. However the performances are genuinely emotionally resonant and the narrative itself is interesting and inspirational. Despite having one of the most unredemptive endings i've ever seen for what was meant to be, essentialy, a film partly about redemption. It's sweet yet edgy, and it maintains as a good example of classic British cinema.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Northern England, 1969, and life is pretty glum for an introspective lad just finishing up regular school. Its the system, you see, that handles people like products in an immense factory. It breeds ... inhumanity. But one found hobby gives our boy some dignity, and that's the training of a wild creature. Stark and oppressive, Loach's commentary on modern times seen through adolescence rings too true to be ignored.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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