Director: KEN LOACH

110 minutes| U.K.| 1969| Colour| D-Cinema


Long-established in the ranks of the all-time great British films and now re-released in a new print, Ken Loach’s first theatrical feature remains both specific in its depiction of a northern English mining community at the end of the ’60s and universal in its themes of youthful potential going to waste in a system driven by traditional class and economic imperatives. Young David Bradley delivers one of the great child performances as Billy, neglected at home, picked on at school, seemingly doomed to follow his older brother down the local pit, but who shows what he’s really made of by caring for a stricken falcon and raising the wild creature all on his own initiative.

In Loach’s adaptation of Barry Hines’ cherished novel A Kestrel for a Knave, the symbolism is evident – to quote Graham Fuller’s memorable phrase, both boy and bird are ‘trained but untameable’ – yet the film feels so fresh, so real, it transcends metaphor and simply pierces the heart. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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