It is undoubtedly a momentous occasion for not just the British economy but for British politics, culture and social life as well. In many ways the old bastion of solidarity and nationalism was coming to an end. The coal mining communities that are portrayed in Kes were perhaps that of the last generation of miners. In a span of a decade the complexion of British industry would change from manufacturing-based to that of finance. The heart-beat of British economy in 1969 was industrial towns of North in which the film is set. In a matter of a few years, London would become the nerve-centre of British economy with its transformation into a global financial hub.
A central social theme in Kes is that of alienation. It is about how an individual feels cut off from emotional or moral support even when he has relatives and social institutions to call upon. Billy Casper signifies that individual, whose troubled life is a metaphor for a whole generation of the British working class. The film is successful because Loach manages to invoke a strong representation of this collective pathos through the character of Casper. The author of the novel upon which the movie is based, Barry Hines, was instrumental toward this end, for his very visual style helped Loach. Together the two artists were able to project the powerful central image of Kasper’s Kestrel – “that lowest of the hawks – its an eagle for an emperor and a kestrel for a knave – is a wonderful image for the boy’s life and prospects. This central image not only helps hold the whole piece together but stays in people’s minds”. (Macnab, 1999) To boot it is socially relevant and resonant even today. For example, Loach never allows us to forget “the social and economic circumstances which underpin Billys existence. He lives on a rough estate and looks destined to end up working in the mines. Billys prospects wouldnt be any better today.” (Macnab,