"Kes" - A movie analysis

Seminar Paper, 2004

13 Pages


List of contents

1. Introduction

2. Background information
2.1. Summary of the film
2.2. Some characteristics of films produced by Ken Loach
2.3. Short biography of Barry Hines
2.4. General setting

3. General situation in the movie
3.1. The class situation in the film/shown classes
3.2. Mobility between classes/social mobility
3.3. Characterisation of the working-class in the late 60s

4. Billy and his environment
4.1. Picture of Billy presented in the film
4.2. Living conditions
4.3 Relationship between Billy and his brother
4.4. School


1. Introduction

In this paper I take a closer look at the movie Kes produced by Ken Loach.

The movie is based on the book A Kestrel for a Knave which was written by Barry Hines. It is a pretty interesting story and by watching the movie the viewer automatically compares his own life and school experiences with Billys experiences.

In the first part of this work I give a short introduction about the background and the situation in which the movie takes place.

In the second part I take a closer look at Billys daily life, his future options and his relationship to his brother.

2. Background information

2.1. Summary of the film

In the centre of the movie is a young boy named Billy. He has some difficulties not only in school also in his life. He uses all his abilities to take care of a young kestrel. He is very interested in kestrels and tries to inform himself about this topic. Billy is not only raising up this kestrel but also trains him.

Close to the end his older brother Jud kills the bird in a fit of rage.

During the movie we get some impressions of the conventional school system, the boring life in a working class settlement and the desperate future situation in the Nord English settlement where mostly everybody is employed in a coal mine.(Frey, 1996)

2.2. Some characteristics of films produced by Ken Loach

Ken Loach normally has a documentary stile. He tries to make a movie as realistic as possible by using laymen as actors and letting the setting take place on the original background described in the book.

In the film Kes the characteristics and the style of Loach are clearly shown. He is using the real environment, the natural light and like in a documentary or realistic film the view is mostly on the protagonist. (Frey, 1996)

2.3. Short biography of Barry Hines

Barry Hines was born in Hyland Common near Barnsley in Yorkshire in 1939. His father was a coal miner. After leaving school, he worked on various jobs such as apprentice mining surveyor and assistant in a blacksmith’s shop.

He studied Physical Education at Loughborogh Training College and became a Physical Education teacher. He taught at a London comprehensive school before returning to Yorkshire to settle down and teach.

In 1966 he had his literary début with his first novel The Blinder and two years later he published his book A kestrel for a Knave which is the foundation of the film Kes produced by Ken Loach. Between his life and his book Kes you can find some things in common. The town is the same as the one in his real life where he worked as a teacher and also the theme of the working-class is a theme that is well-known for him.(Hermes, 1983)

2.4. General setting

The action takes place in the late 60s in North England. Billy, a fifteen-year-old boy, lives in a working-class family. The movie shows mainly the working-class settlement, the school, the woods or the house where Billy lives. We get some short impressions of the city and the working place of his brother – the coal mines.

3. General situation in the movie

3.1. The class situation in the film/shown classes

In the film Kes we get a realistic impression of the working class in the 60s.

England at that time has a very strong class hierarchy. This is shown in different ways in the film. For once there are some passive informations in the film. It starts with the dress Billy is wearing – dress in light blue corduroy trousers and a khaki jacket – but also the light where brown, green and grey dominates gives a more depressive picture of the film. More obvious is the education problem.

„Perhaps if he had been brought up in a different environment and had a better education he probably would have made more than what he has done. At the moment, he’s just, he’s hopeless, he’s a hopeless case, in’t he?“(Leigh, 2002)

In this quote it becomes obvious that Billys mother is aware of her class but feels unable to break class boundaries for or with Billy.

Also Billys teacher Mr. Farthing is not capable to help Billy to get more education to have more future opportunities.

Ken Loach is not directly talking about the class situation but through lightening and sounds and camera actions he shows a realistic situation at that time.

3.2. Mobility between classes/social mobility

Already in the first scene Ken Loach confronts the viewer with the one way situation Billy is struggling with. In the first discussion between Billy and his brother Jud the social dismobility is shown:

Jud: „Another few weeks lad and you’ll be getting up with me.“

Billy: „I’ll not“

Jud: „Won’t ya?“

Billy: „Nope, ‘cause I’m not gonna work down the pit“

Jud: „Where thou gonna work then?“

Billy: „I dunno, but I’m not gonna work down the pit.“


Excerpt out of 13 pages


"Kes" - A movie analysis
University of Rostock
Kulturwissenschaft: Representation of class in British Films since the 1930s
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
350 KB
Kulturwissenschaft, Representation, British, Films
Quote paper
Martin Setzkorn (Author), 2004, "Kes" - A movie analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/115489


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