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Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Depressing but beautiful; a top coming-of-age movie.

Movie PG-13 1970 111 minutes
Kes Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+
By the late 1960s, the coal industry in Yorkshire was in decline, and the resulting poverty, apathy and hopelessness of youth in the community is explored in Kes. David Bradley plays the main character, Billy Casper, a sullen young man who develops a special relationship with a hawk, the Kestral of the title. The ending is especially heartbreaking, and the film's depiction of bullying is unpleasant at times. But ultimately this is a moving story that perfectly captures the way people grew up in northern England in the late '60s and early '70s. That world is long gone, but the great thing about the movies is that they can transport us to a different time and place and show us how basically similar we all are.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Ken Loach's film is grim and rambling, and without a clear victory, yet it's one of the most powerful coming-of-age stories ever told, containing passages of great beauty. It has come to be regarded in some circles as a children's classic. Based on Barry Hines' book "A Kestrel for a Knave," Loach shoots the film like a documentary, simply observing long sequences of the hero at school, suffering the indignities of both the classroom and the football field.

In any other movie about a boy who trains a kestrel, we might expect that the boy finds his "wings," so to speak. But perhaps less than a quarter of the film's running time is actually devoted to the kestrel. Loach's approach feels more honest and more political, mirroring the kestrel training with the efforts of adults to "train" and control young people, breaking their spirits. None of this dulls the heartbreaking power of the ending: a simple tragedy that cuts through everything and goes straight to the heart.

Movie Details

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