United Kingdom, 1969

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This is one of Ken Loach’s earliest films in which he already shows his talent for portraying the starkness of working class life in an unaffected style with unknown actors. Billy (David Bradley), is the son of a northern miner whose expectations lead no further than following his father into the pits when he reaches manhood. Billy is an ordinary child, doing the morning paper round, reading ‘Desperate Dan’ on the way to school and playing football. Everything changes when he finds Kes, an injured Kestrel, which he nurses back to health. Kes becomes Billy’s best friend and his obsession with learning the ways of the hawk finally give him a purpose and his once empty landscape assumes new dimensions. Tragedy awaits however, as Billy’s older brother, who fancies birds of a different kind and horses, provides a traumatic end to the relationship.

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