Ken Loach’s 1969 masterpiece (based on Barry Hines’ novel and produced/co-written by Tony Garnett, later behind This Life and The Cops) remains the template for grim oop north dramas. Its honesty, spontaneity and spiky humour shame more recent dilutions such as the appalling, infuriatingly overrated Billy Elliot.
When a young Yorkshire lad, ignored by his loutish mom and brother and beaten down by grumpy, bullying teachers, finds a baby kestrel on the moors, he discovers a purpose in life, vowing to train it to fly. Only one teacher (Colin Welland) is sympathetic. David Bradley (never to repeat this success) is starkly affecting as the boy, his eyes hosting twin worlds of fear and delight, and Loach patents his technique of mining comedy from communal despair. One of the most significant British films of its era, Kes makes a virtue of its rough edges. You’ll believe a small falcon can fly.
DVD EXTRAS: Original theatrical trailer, interactive menu screens, chapter selections.