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Kes (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)


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Product Details

  • Actors: David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie, Colin Welland, Brian Glover
  • Directors: Ken Loach
  • Format: Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: April 19 2011
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B004JPJHLK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,401 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Kes
Directed by Ken Loach
Starring David Bradley, Colin Welland, Brian Glover

Criterion | 1969 | 110 minutes | Rated PG-13

Video:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Audio:
English: LPCM Mono
English: Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles:
English SDH

Disc:
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Region A locked

The film contains brief nudity and scenes which may disturb young children.

Kes is a very British film, winning two BAFTA awards from its five nominations. Colin Welland won for best supporting actor and was the only professional actor in the film. David Bradley won for most promising newcomer.

The story deals with a troubled young boy, Billy Casper (Bradley). He is bullied by his older brother at home and similarly treated by his peers in school. He's insolent, not above lying or stealing and does little to encourage people to like him. He's a loner.

The setting is Barnsley, Yorkshire, in the north of England. If you have ever seen this part of England depicted in other films, you'll know that it's a poor area populated largely by working class people. In the 1960s, that was very much the case. Billy's brother worked in a coal mine, as did most of the town. The two had to share the same bed, so you can imagine how poor they were.

Anyone unfamiliar with British accents may find the thick Yorkshire dialect hard to follow. It's the main reason that Kes wasn't given a wide release outside England. I'm completely at home with the accent because my grandfather came from Barnsley. He often talked about his tough upbringing and it gives the film additional meaning for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Criterion comes through with another strong transfer May 4 2011
By Steven Aldersley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Kes
Directed by Ken Loach
Starring David Bradley, Colin Welland, Brian Glover

Criterion | 1969 | 110 minutes | Rated PG-13

Video:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Audio:
English: LPCM Mono
English: Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles:
English SDH

Disc:
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Region A locked

The film contains brief nudity and scenes which may disturb young children.

Kes is a very British film, winning two BAFTA awards from its five nominations. Colin Welland won for best supporting actor and was the only professional actor in the film. David Bradley won for most promising newcomer.

The story deals with a troubled young boy, Billy Casper (Bradley). He is bullied by his older brother at home and similarly treated by his peers in school. He's insolent, not above lying or stealing and does little to encourage people to like him. He's a loner.

The setting is Barnsley, Yorkshire, in the north of England. If you have ever seen this part of England depicted in other films, you'll know that it's a poor area populated largely by working class people. In the 1960s, that was very much the case. Billy's brother worked in a coal mine, as did most of the town. The two had to share the same bed, so you can imagine how poor they were.

Anyone unfamiliar with British accents may find the thick Yorkshire dialect hard to follow. It's the main reason that Kes wasn't given a wide release outside England. I'm completely at home with the accent because my grandfather came from Barnsley. He often talked about his tough upbringing and it gives the film additional meaning for me. His father was a miner and my grandfather only escaped that fate by joining the army.

We see Billy on his paper route, taking time off to read his comic. He also steals eggs from the milkman. Milk is still delivered to each home in the UK in this manner. When his mother and brother go out to a bar on the weekends, Billy is left at home on his own. His brother beats him and the house is generally filled with the sound of his mother and brother arguing loudly. He doesn't say much at school, but is often the target of bigger boys.

Early in the film, Billy is taking a walk through the countryside and spies a kestrel. He watches for a while and sees that two kestrels are taking food to a nest. After stealing a book about falconry from a local bookstore, he climbs up to the nest and steals a young kestrel. The bird provides an escape from his unpleasant existence and quickly becomes the focus of his life. This seemingly uneducated boy has discovered his passion. He reads the stolen book and trains the kestrel.

One day, in class, he is asked by a teacher, Mr. Farthing (Welland), to tell the other kids a true story about his life. He's reluctant and says that he doesn't have any, but one of the kids mentions his kestrel. This leads to one of the strongest and most emotional scenes in the film. He's disinterested in everything he is taught and the people around him, but talking about the bird is a different matter. Billy comes alive when he describes how he devotes his time to feeding and training the bird, who he names Kes. Farthing is engrossed in the story and sees for the first time that there's more to Billy than he imagined. He starts to look out for the boy and even visits him to watch him train Kes. It's a strong performance from Welland and he deserved his BAFTA award.

The other teachers wouldn't have a job in modern society. They shout continually and are deeply suspicious of the kids' behavior. The headmaster uses the cane and doesn't seem to mind whether those being punished were truly to blame. The gym teacher cheats at soccer and punishes Billy with a cold shower for conceding a goal. Farthing is the only one who looks at the kids as if they are young people with a chance to make something of their lives.

There's a strong political message in the film, confirmed during interviews in the special features, that many kids have no chance to escape their miserable reality. Billy visits a careers officer who only seems interested in placing him in a pigeon hole. He'll either work in an office if he has the aptitude, or he'll become a miner. The writers talk about how two-thirds of their generation suffered a similar fate. When we see Billy so animated, talking about Kes, it's a sign of his true potential. Will it be recognized or will his life be written off by others as insignificant? This is the essence of the film, along with how Billy substitutes friendship with his love for Kes.

Billy's dishonest nature eventually becomes a problem for him and there are some extremely sad scenes.

The story is based on the book A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. Bradley was 14 when the film was made and was chosen from pupils who attended the school mentioned in the book. All of the children came from one of three schools in the town. The gym teacher (Brian Glover, Alien 3) was a real teacher at the time and Kes was his first film.

Video Quality 4.5/5
The film was made in 1969 on a low budget, but looks wonderful. Criterion's restoration was approved by director Ken Loach. There are occasional white speckles and softness, but the new transfer looks natural and full of detail. This is exactly what I would expect from Criterion, who, along with Disney, continue to maintain the highest possible standards.

Audio Quality 4/5
Two options are offered on the menu: The filmmaker's original soundtrack with production dialogue (English LPCM 1.0) and the internationally released soundtrack with postsync dialogue (English Dolby Digital 1.0). I recommend the original version. Everything is clear, including the dialogue, but some viewers may benefit from the English subtitles due to the heavy Yorkshire accent.

Special Features 5/5

Making Kes (45 minutes, 1080p) tells you everything you might want to know about the film. Criterion interviewed director Ken Loach, producer Tony Garnett, actor David Bradley and cinematographer Chris Menges in 2010 to discuss their recollections.

The South Bank Show (50 minutes, 1080i) looks at the career of Ken Loach.

Cathy Come Home (77 minutes, 1080i) is an early film from Loach and Garnett shown here in its entirety.

Trailer (3 minutes, 1080p)

Booklet (22 pages) including an essay by Graham Fuller

Kes is a wonderful human interest story with a number of deeper themes thrown into the mix, although the story ends rather abruptly. The largely amateur cast was authentic and did a good job of portraying life in Barnsley. It's on record at IMDB as being director Krzysztof Kieslowski's (The Double Life of Veronique, Three Colors Trilogy) favorite film. I wouldn't quite go that far, but it's certainly worth owning. Amazon.com has it at the bargain price of $18.99 at the time of writing. I'm glad I took advantage.

Overall score 4.5/5
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant. Aug. 26 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this story when I read it at school in the 70's and this is the fourth or fifth time I have watched the movie.

Very realistic socially (I grew up just a few miles from where this is filmed) and don't doubt that the PE teacher is based in reality.

Touching and emotional.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Delicate and haunting film! Sept. 12 2005
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
A beautiful and tender story that turns around a 15 year-old Yorkshire boy who tames and trains his pet. One of the most remarkable films of that decade directed by that young and raising promise. Ken Loach.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
If your out there please release on region1!!! Aug. 31 2007
By a reader - Published on Amazon.com
This film is so beautiful-i saw it in the U.K.I really wish they would release in U.S format so i could have it to keeeep!!It is very realistic real film that gets right under your skin and into the little boy's head.Life is stark and hard for him but when he flys or handles that bird ,it sets his soul free.Not much time left-he's soon going to grow up and have to work in the mine and be smothered by mundane grind like folks around him.Heartbreaking without an once of sentimentality so this film gets you.Somewhat upsetting.But so goddam beautiful.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Bleaker and far better then your typical "Boy and his animal" film. May 31 2011
By Smoking Ace - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
4 1/2 Stars

Ken Loach's acclaimed 1973 film "Kes" is one of the saddest films I've ever seen, literally ever. 90% percent of this film is shown with scenes displaying the public disapproval of small loner Billy Casper; be it by his teachers, peers, or family. No matter where he gos there is always Something someone finds to disapprove of in poor Billy: His appearance, attitude, or just the simple fact that he exists. He is a kid whose past is percieved as horrible, present is obiviously miserable, and whose future is looking as dim as the mine shaft he's destined to plunge into. But in all of this darkness there is one small bright shade of light: Kes. A beautiful kestrel taken from a monastery wall by Billy. He seems to be the only thing in this world that Casper takes a natural interest to. "It's just a bird!" His mother shouts, but it's not. Its his sole reason left for existing.

We have all felt down and out in our lives, but only a few of us have ever reached the level of hopelessness that fills Billy's life. The flying scenes with Billy and kes are brief but beautiful, for they show a kid regaining his reason to live when his society told him he had none. "They beat him. They Deprived him. They Ridiculed him. They Broke his heart. But they could not break his spirit." That is the tagline for this film, and I don't think they could've made one that summed up this film better. In some ways I believe that Kes represents Billy in that he feels the need to take flight, to go make something of himself, but is trapped by the forces of his own environment (that leash).

At Kes' Conclusion we are left in want of a resolution, but are sadly denied it. That to me is what makes the film so painful, we hope deep down that Billy finds a way out of his current situation but everything looks doubtful. All I keep thinking is how many children out there share a similar childhood to Billy's, and all I hope is that each of them has their own Kes. Because without hope, without that spirit, what reason is there for living?

This is not a film that would be enjoyed by a massive american audience. This is not Old yeller and it is certainly not Free Willy. Many will find it overly depressing (which isn't an irrational complaint) and the thick yorkshire accents are difficult to follow (These are not Gosford Park accents). But I would state that this film is incredible for its poigancy, emotional power and the very natural performance by David Bradley. The cinematography is exceptional, especially since the film had such a meager budget, and Ken Loach's directing is acclaimed for a reason. If you are looking for a film with a powerful emotional impact, thou can't go wrong with Kes.

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