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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'A Kestrel for a Knave')

Directed by Ken Loach
UK 1969

 

Named one of the ten best British films of the century by the British Film Institute, Ken Loach’s Kes, is cinema’s quintessential portrait of working-class Northern England. Billy (an astonishingly naturalistic David Bradley) is a fifteen-year-old miner’s son whose close bond with a wild kestrel provides him with a spiritual escape from his dead-end life. Kes brought to the big screen the sociopolitical engagement Loach had established in his work for the BBC, and pushed the British “angry young man” film of the sixties into a new realm of authenticity, using real locations and nonprofessional actors. Loach’s poignant coming-of-age drama remains the now legendary director’s most beloved and influential film.

***

Barry Hines' novel, about a young schoolboy in Barnsley who attempts to escape the tedium and meaninglessness of his uninviting working-class future by caring for and training a kestrel that he finds, is never allowed to fall into undue sentimentality by Loach's low-key direction (his first feature). Rather than a tale of a boy and his pet, the film is a lucid and moving examination of the narrow options open to people without money, family stability and support, or education. Terrific performances, illuminated by Chris Menges' naturalistic but often evocative photography.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

Kes is Ken Loach's most acclaimed film. Shot in Barnsley with a largely unknown cast, it's a highly engaging tale about Billy Casper (David Bradley), a fifteen year-old boy whose independent nature doesn't gel with the rigid authoritarianism and conformity that characterise his wasted school life. It is only through the acquisition and training of a young kestrel hawk that his existence is given meaning. It allows him the kind of fulfillment and liberation that his family or school life could never provide. For once his life has a focus - he glimpses the fact that it is possible to escape from his depressing working class environment.

Excerpt from Edinburgh University Film Society review located HERE

 

  Posters

 

Theatrical Release: September 13th, 1970 - New York Film Festival

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Comparison:

MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 561- Region 'A' - Blu-ray Masters of Cinema - Spine #151 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:46:34 (4% PAL speedup)  1:51:07.702 1:50:54.147
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.29 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1  1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,376,300,172 bytes

Feature: 23,229,505,536 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.96 Mbps

1.66:1  1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,658,090,763 bytes

Feature: 36,623,558,016 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate: Criterion:

Blu-ray

Bitrate Masters of Cinema:

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: German (Dolby Digital 2.0) LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Redubbed Track:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Musical Effects Track:

LPCM Audio Undetermined 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English (HoH), German (HoH), None English, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:46)

DVD Release Date: January 20th, 2003

Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,376,300,172 bytes

Feature: 23,229,505,536 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.96 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Making “Kes,” a new documentary featuring Loach, Menges, producer Tony Garnett, and actor David Bradley (44:55 in 1080P)
• The Southbank Show: “Ken Loach,” a 1993 profile (49:08 in 1080i)
• Cathy Come Home (1966), an early television feature by Loach, with an afterword (11:33 in 1080P) by film writer Graham Fuller (1:17:15 in 1080i)
• Alternate, internationally released soundtrack, with postsync dialogue
• Original theatrical trailer (2:56 in 1080P)
• 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by Fuller

Blu-ray Release Date: April 19th, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters:
22

Release Information:
Studio:
Masters of Cinema

1.66:1  1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,658,090,763 bytes

Feature: 36,623,558,016 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

Alternate release soundtrack, with post-dubbed dialogue
Exclusive new video interviews with actor David Bradley (20:15), producer Tony Garnett (26:22), director of photography Chris Menges (8:07), Penny Eyles (5:26), composer John Cameron (8:41), actor Bernard Atha (11:21), and kestrel advisor Richard Hines (31:29)
Excerpts from the 2006 Kes reunion panel at the Bradford Film Festival, featuring Ken Loach, Tony Garnett, writer Barry Hines and actor Colin Welland (57:26)
Extensive 1992 on-stage interview at the NFT with Ken Loach, interviewed by Derek Malcolm (1:10:19)
Original theatrical trailer (2:56)
A booklet featuring new writing on the film and archival material

Blu-ray Release Date: November 7th, 2016
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters:
12

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: (October 2016) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray: Masters of Cinema have come out with a fabulous Blu-ray release. As with the Criterion - it is, likewise, advertised as a "Digital restoration of the film, supervised and approved by director Ken Loach and director of photography Chris Menges". It's far more technically robust than the Criterion with more than 50% the bitrate and this superiority shows in-motion and the image being slightly tighter which you can see in the foreground of the compared capture. The improvement in static captures may seem minute but I played them side-by-side and the MoC was easy to identify as the better video transfer.

 

MoC also use a linear PCM mono track at 24-bits. At United Artists' request the original actors redubbed parts of the film in post-production to 'soften' the Barnsley dialect for international audiences. The Masters of Cinema defaults to the original audio as recorded during films, like Criterion, they include this alternate soundtrack on their Blu-ray release. They include a third audio option; an isolated music - John Cameron (Night Watch, 1988's Jack the Ripper, The Ruling Class) and effects track without dialogue. It sounds flawless. The Masters of Cinema offers optional English (SDH) subtitles and is region 'B'-locked.

 

MoC load their Blu-ray disc with great new supplements - we get 1.5 hours of exclusive new video interviews with actor David Bradley (20:15), producer Tony Garnett (26:22), director of photography Chris Menges (8:07), Penny Eyles - continuity (5:26), composer John Cameron (8:41), actor Bernard Atha (11:21), and kestrel advisor Richard Hines (31:29) as well as an hour's worth of excerpts from the 2006 Kes reunion panel at the Bradford Film Festival, featuring Ken Loach, Tony Garnett, writer Barry Hines and actor Colin Welland and a hour 10-minutes of a1992 on-stage interview at the NFT with Ken Loach, interviewed by Derek Malcolm. Whew! There is also an original theatrical trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film and archival material.

 

This may be Masters of Cinema's most complete Blu-ray release this year! It advances over the Criterion in every category - better video, more audio options (with the isolated effect/music) and over 3 hours of extras! Kes remains a brilliant, and heart-wrenching, film experience! The Masters of Cinema BD has our highest recommendation! It will be on my year-end poll!

 

***

ADDITION: (April 2011) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray: With the lackluster MGM DVD Kes was a perfect choice for Criterion to release. But we can now identify just how poor the PAL transfer was when compared beside the new 1080P Blu-ray which is described as 'Newly restored digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Ken Loach and director of photography Chris Menges, with the filmmaker’s original production soundtrack'. Colors leap to life (almost unnaturally so), contrast dramatically escalates and detail tightens - not to mention the large amount of additional information now available in the 1.66 frame on the Blu-ray. This is apparent on all 4 sides but mostly notable on the side edges.

 

We are given the option of the filmmaker’s original production soundtrack via an uncompressed linear PCM mono track or the International post-synched track via standard Dolby Digital. Audio is a bit of a sore spot for some with Kes - but the inclusion of the DUB as well as optional subtitles should resolve any translation issues. Criterion Blu-ray disc is coded for region 'A'.

 

On the supplements - we are given quite a lot starting with Making Kes is a 45-minute video piece that features interviews with director Ken Loach, producer Tony Garnett, cinematographer Chris Menges, and actor David Bradley. Fall of 2010. The Southbank Show is from 1993 - an arts episode of the British program profiles director ken Loach. It features interviews with Loach, producer Tony Garnett, filmmakers Stephen Frears and Alan Parker, writer Jim Allen, and actor Ricky Tomlinson, among others. Cathy Come Home is a seventy-seven minute television drama (reviewed on out-of-print BFI DVD HERE) , an early film by director Ken Loach and producer Tony Garnett, was made for BBC's anthology series The Wednesday Play in 1966. It shows the visual grittiness and socio-political commitment that would be the hallmark of the work of Loach and Garnett throughout their careers. Also presented is a 2011 afterword (11:33) by film writer Graham Fuller. We also get a trailer and a 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by Fuller.

Tremendous release by Criterion - probably an easy 'blind-buy' for many. This is a ginormous improvement over the MGM which is selling at an 81% reduction in price - however still the Criterion is the only way to go here and it has our highest recommendation! 

***

ON THE MGM DVD (2003): 'The stingy MGM DVD shows some weaknesses - non-anamorphic and moderately hazy in spots - but is progressive and sports optional subtitles. Audio is unremarkable but close, I'll wager, to the way it was produced. Set to sell to a German audience as well - it has an optional Deutsche DUB (and subs). Good news again that I don't see excessive manipulation and the image is fairly clean.

The DVD inferiorities don't take away from the magnificence of the film one iota. This borders on essential cinema folks - a riveting and memorable piece of cinema. If there was a superior DVD version - we would probably recommend but this is it for now - and we've certainly seen worse. 

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

 

Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema- Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

Distribution MGM - Region 2,4 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 561- Region 'A' - Blu-ray Masters of Cinema - Spine #151- Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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