Review of Kes (1969)

Moving picture, 111 minutes

There is no future as a boy nears the end of mandatory schooling in contemporary Yorkshire. Education has mostly been a cruel farce, producing no ambitions of doing anything afterwards. Small, weak and dumb like the rest, the boy quietly trains a young kestrel—a small falcon—until it flies on its own, but hope is not widely encouraged in his world.

An uncompromising kitchen-sink and social-realist drama, it’s not quite a coming of age. For context to the symbolism, Rachel Carson collected the following quotes in Silent Spring (1962):

“Pigeons are suddenly dropping out of the sky dead,” said one witness. “You can drive a hundred or two hundred miles outside London and not see a single kestrel,” reported another. “There has been no parallel in the present century, or at any time so far as I am aware, [this is] the biggest risk to wildlife and game that ever occurred in the country,” officials of the Nature Conservancy testified.

fiction moving picture