Thursday, June 5, 2008



MOVIE: KES (1969)
KENNETH LOACH (Based on a book by BARRY HINES)
David Bradley, Collin Welland, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie

Based on ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’, KES is about Billy Casper (David Bradley), a working-class’ teenager in the mining areas of Yorkshire. Bullied by a gambler brother and a selfishly-dating mom, Billy is carefree and lives to the present. The discovery of the dreamer in him comes in form of a Kestrel named, and a book on falconing, ‘borrowed’ from the town library. The catalysis is also undertaken by an English Teacher Mr.Farthing (Welland), which ultimately leads to a climax that’s a thorn in your conscience.

Self discovery is what KES’s all about, and it certainly is the best flick at that. Living lives in front of a mere 16mm camera, and imparting the soul to it from behind make this a dream of Wordsworth’s. Full credit to the cast, an unbelievably soulful musician in form of John Cameron, and a maverick director in Ken Loach. Freshness in camerawork makes you shiver in the cold, feel the wet black soil, and smell the pastures of Barnsley – DOP Chris Menges is truly a Mozart at that!

The heavy heart in you groans for a positive end to the movie even when your mind knows it's not going to happen. Not when you see through Loach’s eyes, where there’s a Stephen Spender type of agonizing reality in play. A reality where dreaminess is condemned: One that holds you firm to the ground without any unworldly hope. There’s celebration when Billy flies high with Kes; there’s happiness when you see him live his life as he wants it to be. But the final piece of reality is a crash-land indeed: A kind of victory you attribute to a Shakespearean tragedy…

Though hailed by critics, KES never got the laurels it needed to have got: BAFTAs for lead and supporting performances (Bradley and Welland), and something for Loach to show off thanks to a couple of film festivals. Probably the 16 mm camera used was a drawback and so was the meagre budget. But still its lack of records never made KES a movie lesser than a classic, and any movie admirer would love it at first sight.
Catch it on DVD folks! The subtitles may help you tide over some difficult Yorkshire english.

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