Ken Loach
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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A committed socialist, Kenneth Loach worked on documentaries, theatre productions and television films, notably Jeremy Sandford's television play Cathy Come Home (1966).

Poor Cow (1967) began his exploration of the working class, as a late practitioner of "free cinema".

Una giovane operaia vive nella periferia di Londra con il figlio e il marito poco di buono. Quando il marito viene arrestato per furto comincia una serie di esperienze che la demoliscono poco a poco, finchè si rassegna a vivere di solo istinto.
More than anything else Kes (1970), adapted from Barry Hines' novel "A Kestrel for a Knave", feels like an indictment of an educational system that fails to create human beings. It merged his pessimistic realism with a Victorian theme (the lonely victimized child) updated to the society of the 1960s. Neglected by his mother, Billy spends most of the time at home with his much older brother Jud, who is already at work in the mine of the town (like almost everybody else there). They sleep in the same bed but they are hardly friends. At school Billy doesn't do well, bullied by the other children. He works a few hours in a general store but despises the owner. One day he takes a walk in the woods and is mesmerized by a hawk. He immediately wants to read a book on falconery, but the local library cannot lend him the book if his parents don't sign up for him. Billy walks into a nearby bookshop and steals the book. When his brother comes home drunk and falls asleep, Billy insults him in his face until the man wakes up. Back in the woods, Billy climbs a steep wall to capture the hawk in its nest. He names it Kes and starts training the bird according to the bird. At school a ridiculously dictatorial teacher organizes a football game during which he finds time to repeatedly humiliate Billy (and a few other children). A harrowing scene shows Jud and the other miners going down into the mine (Billy's predestined future) while at school the children sing a heavenly song. One teacher regularly canes the boys, even the ones who haven't done anything wrong. But finally one teacher does something for Billy: he encourages the child to explain to the whole class how he captured and trained the hawk. The children are mesmerized and no longer regard Billy as a retard. Later he gets into a fight with a bigger child. The same teacher stops them and reproaches the bigger one for bullying smaller children, and then visits Billy at the field near home to see how the child plays with the bird. Jud gives Billy money to bet on horses but Billy spends it for the hawk. It turns out that the horses win and Jud is furious. Billy hides while Jud roams the school furious looking for his little brother. Billy has to show up at a meeting with a social assistant that advises children on jobs. Billy hardly listens and shows no interest in jobs. The social assistant advises him to take up a manual job. Billy runs out and rushes to see his bird, only to find out that Jud has killed Kes in revenge for what Billy did to him. Billy buries the bird. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Family Life (1972) sviluppa questo argomento affidandosi alla psicoanalisi. E' la storia della progressiva demolizione psichica di una ragazzina schizofrenica da parte della famiglia e della comunità, un impietoso atto di accusa contro le istituzioni. La ragazza è troppo mite per controbattere alla arcigna genitrice; sfoga la propria infelicità nell'amore e rimane in cinta; la obbligano ad abortire e dal trauma non si riprenderà più, anche per merito di psichiatri incompetenti.

Il resto del cinema di Loach è ancora basato sul microcosmo del proletariato urbano e suburbano. Il suo secondo capolavoro, Days of Hope (1975), e` una saga televisiva in quattro puntate sul periodo del primo dopoguerra.

Black Jack (1979), primo film in costume, tratto dal romanzo di Leon Garfield (1968), affonda nella miseria e nello squallore della Londra settecentesca.

Game Keeper (1980)

A Question of Leadership (1981)

Looks and Smiles (1981), set in the violent, sordid, industrial suburbs, of the 1970s, examimes the struggles of young graduates. As usual, the film unfolds slowly, through a series of rather unremarkable events, focusing more on environments than on characters. The conversation is as plain as it gets (as usual, in a heavily-accented English). The acting, however, is impeccable.

Unemployment is record high in the industrial town. Mick is a young man with a passion for motorcycles who is looking in vain for jobs in a depressed economy. Mick dreams of becoming a motorcycle mechanic. Given the desperate situation his friend Alan decides to join the army. One night in a disco they meet Karen, who works in a shoestore, before getting into a brawl with two other kids and being kicked out of the club. The following day Mick visits Karen at her store and asks her for a date. They walk around and would like to watch a movie, but Mick doesn't have the money and Karen has to pay the ticket for him. Inside the theater Karen recognizes her divorced mother, kissing passionately her boyfriend, and walks out disgusted. He walks her home and they kiss. At home Karen is scolded by her mother for staying out so late but Karen, in turn, confronts her mother about her sex life. Mick takes Karen to a football game on a very hot day. She doesn't feel well and they have to walk out just when Mick's team scores a goal. Upset by his selfishness, she breaks up with him. Broke as usual, one day the kids steal a car. They had to a club where a rock'n'roll band is performing and see Karen with friends. The pair gets into another fight. The following day Mick has an important job interview and he shows up with a black eye. He doesn't get the job. Angry and disillusioned, he joins Alan for another criminal adventure: they break into a bar after hours and, not finding money in the register, they steal all the cigarettes they can find. It is time to make peace with Karen, but, sick with the flue, she is not to be found at the store. Undeterred, Mick rides his motorcycle to her place. She welcomes him in her bed but her mother catches them before they can have sex. To make matters worse her mother's boyfriend is with her and tries to have a conversation with her. The argument escalates and Karen breaks down in tears. She collects a few things and decides to move in with her father. After stopping at a restaurant Mick and Karen reach the multi-family house where her father lives. He is out working the night shift, but her girlfriend is in, and Karen learns that they have a baby. The woman is kind and lets them sleep in the living room. In the morning her father is still missing. Karen plays with her step-brother. Finally her father shows up. She explains that she ran away. Her father is understanding but there is no room for her in his tiny apartment. She has to return to her mother's place. Some time later Mick and Karen meet Alan at a restaurant. Alan tells them of his terrifying experience in the army. Nonetheless, Alan likes the army and even urges Mick to enroll. Karen is alarmed at that thought, but Mick is tired of being unemployed. The guys continue the manly conversation ignoring Karen. When Alan leaves, Karen is moody and brash. She tells Mick bluntly that he has to decide what he wants to do with her. Later he is in the usual unemployment line with many other young men.

Fatherland o Singing the Blues in Red (1986)

Un cantautore dissidente della DDR si rifugia a Berlino Ovest, dove si scontra con i mali del capitalismo, e poi si mette in cerca del padre che trova in Inghilterra, anch'egli esule da trent'anni; ma scopre che questi fu costretto a fare la spia contro gli ebrei dai nazisti, e poi uccise anarchia per conto di Stalin, e poi è stato spia per la CIA nell'est.

Hidden Agenda (1990)

Riff-Raff (1991) is one of his best films.

Raining Stones (1993) e` un altro vertice del suo cinema.

Indagatore sensibile e paziente dei piccoli drammi delle famiglie comuni, delle angosce che covano dentro la classe operaia, Loach parte dal documentario per denunciare la condizione esistenziale, rimanda ai romanzi vittoriani per interpretare lo smarrimento dei più giovani, ma aggiunge una personale morale sfiduciata.

Ladybird Ladybird (1994)

Land and Freedom (1995)

Doctors enter a house for an emergency call. Inside the house we see an old man lying on the couch, and the doctors are told that the old man, named David Carr, collapsed. They take him to the hospital and his grand-daughter comes along. But he never makes it, and dies in the ambulance. The movie cuts to David Carr's grand-daughter seeing his belongings. There she finds newspaper cuts about the Spanish civil war and socialist movements. This is the introduction to the film. After this we see the opening credits, and some old footage while we get the information that in Spain in February 1936 a coalition of socialist, republican and other left wing parties were victorious in the general election and that the big landowners, industrialists, churchmen and army officers fear of the power of the working class induced a military uprising, led by the fascist general, Franco, against the government. The resistance to Franco's army is formed by militias organized by trades unions and political parties fighting for their democratic rights. At this point we get to know that this footage and information is actually a film being showed in Liverpool to the young David Carr. Member of the British Communist party and impressed by the violence being held against his Spanish comrades he decides to go to Spain and help fight the fascism. Next we see David Carr in a train in Spain, on his way to join the International Brigades, which are government supported brigades. On the train he meets some Spanish people, members of a POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification) militia. They are fighting fascism and he decides to join them to fight in the Aragon front. In the POUM militias (in contrary to what was normal at the time) men and woman fought together, and the officials were chosen by vote. In the following months he makes friends with some of the other members of the militia, like the French Bernard, Maite and Bianca for whom he also falls in love with. He also fights in the liberation of villages hold by the fascist army. Soon they receive indications from the republican government telling the POUM that in order for them to receive new weapons they need to follow the rules of a regular army, what means no women fighting and regular military posts. The majority of the POUM members decide not to follow the rules of the government, and continue to organize in their own way and without receiving any help. So they continue to fight with their old weapons, what some consider to be suicide. One day, while training with POUM weapons, Carr gets injured. The rifle explodes in his face and he ends up in a hospital in Barcelona. In Barcelona he decides to join the International Brigade, which was his original plan. He meets Bianca in Barcelona, and she criticizes severely his decision of joining the International Brigades, saying they are being influenced by Stalinism and betraying the revolution. While he is on the Brigade, fighting against anarchists and members of other left wing factions that the republican government is now trying to repress. He feels disappointed and so he decides to join the POUM again. But when he comes back he finds his old POUM militia surrounded by the government army who demands them to surrender. In this climate of tension Bianca gets shot by the army and dies. After Bianca's funeral Carr goes back to the United Kingdom. At this moment the film cuts back to the present, and we see Carr's funeral. The movie ends with his grand-daughter throwing a piece of Spanish land she found in his belongings to his tomb.
(Stub prepared by Guilherme Caeiro Copyright © 2013)
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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My Name Is Joe (1998)

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

Set in the 1920s in the Irish countryside, The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006) tells the story of the conflict between Irish republican rebels and the British troops. In this movie Ken Loach tells a story about socialism and the life of the working classes, which are is typical themes.

The film starts with some local inhabitants playing a hurling game. After the game, British troops show up saying all public meetings are banned. They ask everyone's names, addresses and occupation and treat them in an abusive manner. When a young Irish man, named Micheail, refuses to answer the questions in English they attack him. He strikes back, which leads to his killing. Them the action cuts to Micheail's funeral, where his friends and family start singing "The Wind That Shakes Barkley" an Irish folk song that gives the name to the movie. After this initial scenes we start following the main character, Damien O'Donovan a friend of Micheail was present on the first scene. He is a recently graduated doctor who is about to go to London to work on a hospital. When he is in the train station to catch the train to London, he witnesses another abusive behavior of British soldiers towards Irish men, in this case against the train crew who refused to transport the British troops. This event makes him change is mind about leaving to London. He decides to stay and join a guerrilla unit, led by his brother Teddy. This local guerrilla is part of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which uses violence to gain Ireland's independence. The IRA's idea is to gain the independency for Ireland and to institute a Socialist Republic on the country. Despite having few military equipment compared to the British troops they start their training, relying on their willingness to give their lives for the cause. Their first action is against Irish traitors who help the British troops. One day when Damien, Teddy and his friends are playing pool in a local bar, British troops enter the bar and start inspecting them. They don't find anything, and go to a separate room of the Bar. While the British troops are in the other room drinking Ted and his friends get their guns, they enter the room and kill them. After this event the violence of the British troops towards Irish people in the region gets stronger, they begin to harass and torture men, women and children. A region's landowner, Sir John, decides to turn in one of his employees, Chris Reilly, to the British troops as a member of the IRA. At first Chris denies his involvement or knowledge of the killing, but after his family is threaten he tells what he knows about it and also where to find Teddy and the others involved. They are arrested and Teddy is tortured by the British troops. Damien and Teddy escape because one British soldier let them go out. After leaving jail the guerrilla invades Sir John's house and make him write a letter to a British General, saying that if one of the members of the guerrilla still imprisoned is executed so will he. They also decide to execute Chris as a traitor, Damien do it, which is something hard and painful for him. Next there is a scene in the local Court of Law. The local court of law is one expression of the Irish independent power, and Teddy decides to interfere with one of its decisions. Teddy interferes on the benefit of a local businessmen, he explains the court he needs his money to buy weapons to fight the war. This causes the first divergence of opinions inside the guerrilla and between Teddy and his brother Damien. The guerrilla continues to attack British troops and the British army continues to harass the population, until a message arrives, a truce was signed. This truce represents some concessions from the British government concerning the Irish independence. Ireland can have a government with autonomy but the United Kingdom still retains the final political control over the nation. This divides the members of the IRA in those who agree with this solution and the ones who think it's not enough, and want to continue fighting to achieve total independence. Soon this division creates two factions who start to conflict with each other. The two brothers also disagree, Teddy supports the truce while Damien wants to keep fighting. The two parts of the IRA begin to fight. Damien and his associates enter the IRA headquarters in order to steal guns but are caught by the Irish army. One men is killed and Damien is arrested. In the end Damien is considered a traitor and therefore condemned to death by shooting.
(Stub prepared by Guilherme Caeiro Copyright © 2013)
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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The Angel's Share (2012) is basically three movies in one: the usual realistic social fresco, a hilarious comedy about four unlikely friends, and a caper film. It is one of the most user-friendly films made by Loach. The happy ending is kind of too "Hollywood-ian" but inspired by real sympathy for the character. A drunk bald, bespectacled young man, Albert, is dangerously teetering on the edge of railway tracks. When he hears the voice of the station master ordering him to step back, he actually falls on the railway tracks, and barely escapes when the train arrives. Later he gets arrested and taken to court. Other young people who are in court for small offences include Mo, a pathologically shoplifting girl, Rhino, who climbed and desecrated a statue, and Robbie. His attorney convinces the judge to commute Robbie's sentence to community service, just like the others. The reason is that Robbie's girlfriend Leonie is pregnant and he intends to reform his life. A blue van driven by supervisor Harry picks them up and takes to paint walls in a government building. When Robbie's girlfriend goes into labor, it's Harry in person who drives Robbie to the hospital. However, he doesn't manage to see his wife and his baby because Leonie's brothers are waiting for him: Leonie's family does not want Robbie and they beat him up in the stairwell to drive the message home. Harry can only stare in disbelief. Apparently, it's an old family feud: they accuse Robbie of being a prick son of a prick son of a prick. Harry is a good-hearted lonely middle-aged man who takes loser Robbie under his wing. Harry also happens to be a whisky connoisseur. They drink to newborn Luke. Robbie is so determined to prove to Leonie that he is changing that he accepts to attend a counseling session with a boy he injured seriously and with his family. The mother points out the damage Robbie caused when he attacked the car of the boy and kept beating him for no good reason until he detached his retina. His girlfriend Leonie feels shame. Robbie cries speechless.
Harry takes the crew to visit a distillery. Robbie shows that he has good nose. He catches Mo stealing small bottles and reminds her that the good Harry could lose his job for something like that. The friends meet and drink whiskey. Albert throws up and another one drinks his vomited whiskey.
Robbie is still chased by Leonie's brothers. He is saved by her father. Her father, however, only wants to bribe Robbie to leave town. Robbie asks for a second chance, but Leonie's father reminds him that he is jobless and has no future to offer to Leonie. Leonie's father also changed the baby's name from Luke to Vincent, just to prove how irrelevant Robbie is.
Harry takes the crew to clean up a cemetery. Harry invites Robbie to a whisky meeting . Mo overhears them and invites herself and then invites the others. They all travel to the meeting and Robbie impresses a whisky expert with his superhuman ability to recognize high-quality whiskies . Asked by someone in the audience what is the best whiskey, the expert talks about a cask of rare whiskey that will come to an upcoming auction and it is literally priceless. Just one bottle would be enough to make Robbie rich. During the break he is approached by a wealthy whiskey collector, Thaddeus, who tests him and, impressed too, leaves him a business card.
Meanwhile, Leonie and Robbie are looking for a place to live and they meet another kind soul, a woman who is willing to rent them a nice apartment. but Robbie catches Leonie's brother hiding outside, spying on them, and almost takes his eye off with a knife. Robbie realizes that he will never get a second chance unless he makes a lot of money, and the idea forms in his mind of stealing the precious whiskey. The four friends, wearing Scottish kilts, travel (bus, hitchhike, walk) to the location of the auction and witness the expert opening the barrel. At night Robbie enters the warehouse and steals a few liters of the country's most expensive whisky. The plan is to sell it to the collector, Thaddeus. They attend the auction where the price skyrockets Thaddeus keeps bidding but eventually gives up to a collector from the USA. Robbie finds Thaddeus in a pub, drinking alone, desperate, and offers him a sip of the stolen whiskey. Thaddeus realizes that Robbie has some of the precious whiskey and simply asks for the price. The four friends start their trip back home. They are stopped by cops. The cops are obnoxious but have nothing to do with the heist. When the cops leave, an excited Albert, an incredible idiot, manages to break two of the bottles. What is left is enough to make a lot of money out of Thaddeus, which Robbie gladly shares with his friends. What his friends don't know is that Robbie saved one bottle for Harry as a sign of gratitude for the only man who ever gave him a second chance. Robbie loads his wife and his baby in a van and takes off for his new job.

Route Irish (2010)

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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