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What makes the PE scene in ‘KES’ directed by Ken Loach, one of the most memorable in British film industry?

During the PE scene there is a little humour portrayed by the PE coach with his buffoonish acts. One would say that the PE teacher would like to think of himself as Bobby Charlton. The unprofessional cast adds a touch of realism; so, when the characters are shown there is a realism of message portrayed to us. The PE class boys act like today’s boys, with rude remarks and silly behavior. The setting, an industrial town, Barnsley, in the northern England adds an extra touch of realism, the time of 1960’s shows the society of class system, education and poverty.

Fundamentally, during the PE scene, Casper does not have his kit and he lacks interest in football, the coach nags Casper about his commitment to PE. Nevertheless the football game starts, Man U V Spurs. Spurs win, thus, the coach loses his game. As a punishment for missing a goal during the match, Casper is put under a shower of freezing cold water. The impact on the audience is the shocking, nude, explicit scenes of exploitation of school children.

The main audiences of “KES” are teenage kids; the sole purpose is because it deals with problems that face teenagers, employment and harsh reality of being a teenager. However, the hidden audience are the elderly who see the film as a memoir to mark their own experience of the 60’s literally. “KES” gives a realism of British life and a rare masterpiece of history.

Billy Casper is a loner, dead end, bullied kid, he seems to have no future but the coal mines. Although one feels sorry for his life and his struggles, the audience feels sympathy for him. In contrast, the PE teacher, the buffoon makes a fool out of himself, after losing the game it shows who he really is, a loser. Still, the coach some how reinforces discipline and superiority over the children. Moreso, head master, Gryce, really reinforces punishment and the need of caning kids: he wouldn’t be mistaken to be called “the school headmaster from hell”. In conflict character, Mr Farthing poses an interest in Casper’s little hobby and gives Casper a boost of energy.

Back to the PE teacher, he is a very stereotypical PE teacher, he bullies the boys and acts like a tough guy but in fact in real life he’s appalling. What makes the coach so interesting is that he has so much high spirit even though it is so embarrassing. Moreso, the coach’s bullying action towards the children show them that he’s in charge and accept Billy’s humiliation.

Billy Casper does not like football, he has no kit because he can’t afford it, he is unhygienic and the odd one out, therefore, he comes in direct conflict with the coach. Tension is created when Billy is asked to play. Tension is then sustained when they lose and finally the climax resolves in a freezing cold shower for Billy. Sugden deliberately treats the other boys better than Billy on purpose because he knows that the other boys are very good at sports and worth something, he can see some potential future in them. For example he does not punish one of the students for having a love bite on his chest. The hidden reason why coach and Billy come into conflict with each other’s because the coach knows that Billy is just, well a waste of time. Ironically after all that showing off, the coach loses the game. When a boy goes “better luck next time” it must have really got the Sugden going.

There are lots of humorous moments in the PE scene, when Billy says he has no underwear and drops his pants revealing his buttocks the audience laughs because in today’s society everyone wears at least some sort of underwear. Moreso, when he is made to put on the big shorts on it looked funny because it’s too big for him and he is being humiliated. In addition, when the teacher smacks Billy it is humorous for reasons that today teachers would never think of doing that in class. Shockingly to our eyes Billy is punished under freezing cold water. The audience may laugh at the nude explicit scene.

Also, Billy is an entertainer; by climbing on to the goal post’s frame and doing a monkey act he entertains the team who after he finishes give him a round of applauses. He entertains the audience by a very awkward and amusing dive to save the last goal, which he does not save. Although, there is humour it is tainted with sadness, Billy is picked last out of the team. Also, he’s encounter with the showers provides sympathy from us. Not to mention how the coach wears a professional football shirt with number 9 of Man U written at the back whilst the boys have scruffy shirts or none. This reinforces the hierarchy of class system and power the teacher has.

‘KES’ is set in an industrial town, Barnsley in the north of England. The effect of the scene not only shows the extreme realism of life but a historical story. We could imagine this scene taking place in the 60’s but not today. The film does portray actual characters that existed and showed us a partial representation of their lives. Critics say that these scenarios at school behavior from teachers and students both alike existed in the 60’s. Ken loach portrays the difference between the boys and the PE teacher with the coach having authentic kit that others to show us the cruelty of teachers back then.

The dialogs in “KES” is very realistic. Firstly, Ken Loach has let has let the characters speak the Yorkshire accent freely which gives a boost of realism. Also, I doubt it has been scripted but more to the fact that phrases like;

“An early bath for you lad”

“Get down before I put you down”

“Better luck next time”

These phrases have not been scripted but incorporated from the Yorkshire dialect. The effect created by the freely use of Yorkshire dialect, accent and phrases shows how natural and realistic it is.

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