Despite its reputation as a British classic, Kes was not at all successful in America, where it was a commercial disaster. The wonderfully naturalistic dialogue, delivered in a broad Barnsley dialect, probably made the film rather inaccessible to our friends across the Atlantic. Kes is quite bleak and depressing in tone, showing a society that wallows in cultural and social deprivation, and characters who drink/steal/abuse to fill the void in their lives. The kestrel represents freedom, a chance for Billy to fly above the negative influences all around him, but it is a sense of freedom doomed as completely and inevitably as Billy himself is doomed to a bleak future. Loach relieves the gloomy atmosphere with occasional flashes of humour, one being a rudely suggestive song performed by a 'turn' in a working men's club; the other being a fabulous school football lesson in which the teacher (Brian Glover) dreams of himself as Bobby Charlton and provides hilarious commentary of the match while he runs rings around his pupils. Away from the comedy, Kes is extremely powerful and gritty viewing, strongly performed by its cast of 'real' actors and believable non-professionals. As an example of Yorkshire-based cinema, Kes may well stake a valid claim to be the best of the lot. Harsh, depressing, gritty, yes... but above all excellent.