Battered, neglected boy finds battered, neglected baby kestrel on the Yorkshire moors and decides to bring it up himself.
A 20-words or less outline for a Disney movie, perhaps? Not in the expert hands of Ken Loach... Loach's first feature pulls together a now-familiar, harsh picture of working-class life: abusive mothers, violent brothers and school seen as a pointless stop on the route to pit, shop-floor or unemployment queue, are just some of the highlights. But while it's a world view shorn of sentiment, it's still packed with emotion and insight.
Bullying gamesmaster Glover inflicting selfish fantasies of playing for Man U on the kids is the sequence everyone talks about. But the sight that haunts longest is the sheer joy on the face of Billy (Bradley) as he trains the bird on the moorsl, and it's a joy made all the more poignant by the tragedies that follow it. The background may be slightly dated now, but Kes is still an exceptional example of British cinema.