Kes (1969) — Ken Loach | Film as Art #33

in CineTV4 months ago (edited)

Kes (1969)

Dir — Ken Loach


Watching Kes was a scintillating experience. At first, I was reliving my teenage days. I realized, later on, it represented every single childhood I knew around me, perhaps all the lower middle class childhoods are like that all over the world. The protagonist of the film, the 15-year-old teenage boy, is a reflection looking back at me through the mirror. Running through the woods with a stick in my hands. Beating the passing, swaying heads of undergrowths without a care in the world. Looking for birds nests. Stealing foods from the truck, books from the library. Troubles at home. Running from them.

Among the most notable British filmmakers, Ken Loach is surely a frequent name. Two of his films from this century won Palme d'Or, not many people can claim that honor. And even the people who are clueless about his films probably heard his name, when he called Marvel movies boring, following Martin Scorsese (and rightly so). But Ken Loach established himself long before all that. He's been making movies for over half a century now.

Kes (1969) is his second feature. Although the film is about a teenage boy, Billy Casper, and a bird of prey, a falcon he trained and named Kes, Ken loach made the film with political protest in mind. A cry against the flawed educational system that cripples the future of potentially bright students. A certain exam would decide whether the student will go on taking higher education and have a white-collar job with good pay, or will they go on doing manual labor with low pay and no room for improvement. Loach loathed this practice of taking away choices.
He also depicted the life of those lower-earning manual workers and their neighborhoods. Their drama. He thought those could be worth viewing too.

I can't help wonder how similar it was for us in south Asia. We had and still do an educational system that robs us of choices in the same way. Then again, we were ruled by the British for 200 years, the ghost still lurks within the system.

Our teachers were grunts, they had the sticks too. One of my teachers actually liked to stick me every day for no reason. And there was the sports teacher, who would be the referee, the player, the captain and would win no matter what!

But I'd be lying if I said the film's political messages intrigued me much. I'm also not perturbed by the violence in school. It was the norm. When you are in bed with the problem for so long, the problem ceases to appear as a problem. I was moved by this beautiful picture that created its own little world, an escapist one where the teenage protagonist gets to hide from his school bullies, his abusive older half-brother, lack of a father who ran away, brute teachers, and his inability to adapt to the society. It's a coming-of-age story. Almost every kid who grew up in a like environment will find something to relate to.


Yet it is dreamlike. I would give anything to have the chance to go back to the paddy fields I walked through as a child. The smell of wet grass, and water in the woods. The white noise of wind passing through trees covers everything else. That feeling of freedom and simplicity, oh, how I wish to have them back!


There's a certain homely feel to the cinematography and the atmosphere of the film. The film is absolutely beautiful in its minimalistic shots. I could see it for that for hours.
Kes doesn't have a definitive story. Yet it narrates the story of us all.

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Oh this is so good! A topic so close to my heart. I argue on either side, on every side of every educational system. Being a educator and an eternal student myself in multiple countries and have students from all over the world, I have seen or discussed a lot of different educational systems...

A certain exam would decide whether the student will go on taking higher education

I hate this myself. I absolutely do not judge anyone by their academic degrees or how well they did in exams. You have several good examples in BDC already :) and we have discussed them in the past.

I have seen all possible kinds. People did phenomenal in the exam, but couldn't do well later on. People did terribly in the exams, turned out to be massively succesful (in the same subject) later on. Talented student did terribly on an exam for a mundane reason, and totally lost their way in life..... I have seen it all... multiple cases too. I don't know how do I feel about it anymore...

Do I like exams?

Do I hate exams?

Is there any benefit to them?

My answer to all these questions in YES. Which makes it very confusing. It just depends on the situation. It is just one of those numeous variables that complicated out lives. I just don't judge people on them.

Teachers : I have been through the same education system that you have been through as a kid. And yes. I got my share of beating. Probably got about 2X of yours (guessing). My biology teacher liked to pull my ears to show the class every day that how living beings react to pain. You know what, I actually miss him. I now realized that he was not sadist or anything. Because later on I have seen sadist people...It was just his way of teaching, albeit ineffective, but I learned from him too. I have been very fortunate with teachers. Even the ones I have hated during those days. I somehow connect to them today. I feel, if they have been able to teach just one thing to me... that is probably a net gain?

I don't know. I am biased towards teachers.

The other day, I went to pick up my older. Her school is also a school for economically disadvantaged and severely learning impared and ill students. Also a school of mentally disabled, hearing impared and visually impared kids. The model for this school (this is a public school) is to treat every kids the same way. Have them sit and get taught in the same class, as much as possible. So when I when to pick my daughter up from school (they are doing in person school for about a month now), I met her art teacher, miss Thelander, a nice young kid! She was embarrassed to meet me, saying her art class was first thing in the morning during the online school days, and how kids hated it. I told her... those are the day... my daughter woke up early to be ready for the class most easily... and looked forward to her class. I said, her class makes our life a little bit better every time she teaches.

The young lady, the young teacher, was so moved by these words, that she started crying.

I don't know Amor. I am very confused. But this is a topic very close to my heart.

A topic so close to my heart

Your enthusiasm in this topic is quite evident!

As much beating I got, I never really thought of the teachers any less. In truth, admired many of them despite the beatings. Some of them were really admirable.

We see these beatings are discouraged now and teachers are forbidden from using "bet" anymore. I'm sure you're aware this is not to do any damage to the students young psyche. I wonder whether this makes any significant changes, I've never seen a case where teachers beatings led students go haywire.

True there are some exceptional news where a teacher permanently physically impaired a student. But you know, there are also news where delinquent students cripple or even killed the teacher because of being handed to low grades.

But aren't these extremes cases? And while I acknowledge the possibility, I never seen personally any case of mental disability caused by the beating.

Be that as it may, these beatings should be stopped. Just because it didn't harm me, I don't think students should be punished for not doing well.

And my quarrel is against the educational system, not the teachers. Europe is doing much better now.

I don't think exams are rudimentary. Rather, there should be a gauge to measure personal growth. How many papers published, thesis done and the quality of them — for example. A single exam to evaluate everyone is flawed.

Capital punishment in school largely have stopped. In there are incidences now, they are likely serious. Same with kids at home. Physical punishment towards kids for discipline is a thing of the past, so if that happens now, it is likely seriously bad.

I was talking to @surrealfia about personal growth the other day. She thinks a lot about that.

Europe, especially the nordic countries were successful for a long time using the no homework, no testing model. But I think that system will now fail with the 'integration' of refugees from middle east and northern africa into their society. There are abundant early sign of that.

Dada I disregard capital punishment... although I do agree in some cases it's necessary but at some point I believe that a life wasted away in confinement and solitary is a punishment fair... and regarding physical punishment towards kids, I think you have heard of "মাইরের মধ্যে ভিটামিন আছে" and that was wrong but so is the coddling that kids these days get... I wonder where the balance lie but I'm sure you know more about it and still getting to know more

I am aligned with you. I can't imagine hitting my kids, and certainly the school they to, no one will ever hit them. That said, they do fight among each other and with their friends. As long as that is fun, I have no problem with that. But they are supposed to tell me when things are not fun. I trust my kids with their judgement just like the adults. I treat them like adult and they do the same to me. That is the rule in our household.

that I believe is the best way to treat them. If kids get treated as an adult they will behave as an adult

It is definitely an interesting movie full of enthusiasm and everything is wonderful and excellent