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Staff Picks Category: Falconry

Kes []



Film recommendations certainly play a role in a day’s work at the Arts & Music department.  It’s often my favorite task to help someone find a film that fits their taste and am always flattered when a patron asks for me to select something that I enjoyed.  Recently, the favor was reciprocated.  A regular patron suggested, based on our many movie conversations, that I might enjoy the film Kes.  He was correct and to continue the dialog, here’s my take:
Kes is a story that I consider the Northern England equivalent of Truffaut’s 400 Blows.  Made a decade later, director Ken Loach, who certainly chooses not to glamorize youth or pander to children, creates a nearly bleak portrait of childhood.  His central character, Billy Casper, lives in a poor, working class mining community and seems to have his future decided for him at 15 years of age.  While not absolutely going for the heavy handed approach, Loach is suggesting flaws in, what he considers, the still existing English class system.
Billy eventually finds an escape from the constant bullying from adult figures (his headmaster, classmates, older brother, gym teacher, etc.) when he notices a nest on a neighbor’s property.  He studies the science of training birds and eventually develops trust with a kestrel he appropriately christens “Kes”.  His dedication and care earns him the respect from a group of classmates and a caring English teacher (who is possibly the only kind adult in the film).
Kes, which is heartbreaking and desolate feeling at times, is a remarkable work.  Loach’s nonjudgmental camera style, the simple and lyrical imagery, the falconry scenes with young Billy’s textbook narration and soft English landscape gives the film a quality not unlike a documentary.

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