5 reasons why Kes is an underrated classic

Each Monday, film fan and champion of the downtrodden Jordan Sims picks out an overlooked gem – and gives them the spotlight they so dearly deserve.

While Ken Loach’s Kes is rightly seen as a classic in British cinematic history, here are five more unconventional reasons to revisit the slice of 1969 working class realism.

1. It has the backing of Karl Pilkington

Although Karl’s top film shifts between Kes and The Elephant Man, it’s still a mighty achievement to be considered in the working class philosopher’s high-regards. I reckon the Karl Pilkington Seal of Approval is the kind of award that the Oscars is missing out on.

2. It’s all filmed up North

I like to say that Kes tears down stereotypical walls, but it really is grim up north for the two hours of this film. Set in little old Barnsley, Kes has an infinite feel of despair and exaggerated isolation, that is helped by the terrible whether and dense fog that is so characteristic of our heat-deprived country.

3. It used unknown and untrained actors


Providing scope for an unconventional acting style, Kes actually featured the talents of former wrestler Brian Glover (above), who was teaching at Broadway Grammar School at the time of filming (where he had met fellow teacher Barry Hines, author of the novel that Kes is adapted from). Glover would go on to carve out a long career in TV and film, and the use of untrained actors who are embedded in the community they’re portraying is a defining feature of Ken Loach’s style.

4. It had to be dubbed

I’m sure it’s not quite Enter the Dragon, but the strong Yorkshire accent was so difficult for some other audiences to understand that it was actually dubbed to make the speech clearer. I’d say that I take offence, but I’m actually strangely proud of our inadequate articulation.

5. The football scene

Genuinely funny, the PE football lesson is a very relatable and comedic moment; a flashback to everyone’s young days on a cold field with 30 other people and a ball. Shades of George Best.

More underrated classics

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
Nowhere Boy
The Assassination of Jesse James
Without a Paddle
Grave of the Fireflies
The Adventures of Tintin
The Invention Of Lying
The Room
The Money Pit
Starship Troopers

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