The films ‘Kes’ and ‘Billy Elliott’ are superficially similar. One of the most striking similarities is that they are both set in mining towns when the coal industry was still running. However, what mining represents and means is very different in the two films. In ‘Kes’, it is something that Billy Casper is desperately trying to get away from, whereas in ‘Billy Elliott’, Jacky and Tony are fighting against the closure of the mines – it is unlikely that Billy will ever work there. In ‘Kes’, the likely fate of Billy Casper is that he will work in the mine.
However, he is adamant that his will not happen. One of the reasons that he is so against working in the mine is that he has seen the effect that it has had on his brother, Jud. Jud is a stereotypical young man – he’s strong, vain, chases after women and often drinks. He also picks on Billy in a very severe way. Jud despises the fact that Billy is still in school and he is almost happy every time he tells Billy that one day soon, he will be joining him, getting up early in the morning and working long hard hours in the mine.
Billy is much smaller than Jud, and Jud uses his strength and size against Billy to take out his frustration. For example, when he comes home and finds Billy reading a book, a pastime he would never do, he steals the book out of Billy’s hands and says “What’s thou got that for when thou can’t read? ” and takes it off him. When Billy goes to take the book back, Jud holds him off with one hand and looks at the book in the other. He then says “I can understand stealing money, but a chuff me, a book! ” and throws the book across the room. Billy is upset, but Jud violently twists his arm around his back.
He also picks fights with his mother, although these are verbal. Mrs Casper threaten to give him a “good thrashing”, this is an empty threat. She is quite scared of Jud, although she tries not to show it. We know that Jud dislikes his job because there is a scene when he is walking through the woods to work. There is a flute playing in the background, but this is interrupted by the rumble of a van. There are similar scenes to this which involve Billy walking through the woods, but they are somewhat more relaxed and the music is different – more soothing.
As Jud goes into the mine, he meets some friends who say “You should be on top of the world on a day like this,” to which he replies “Another ten minutes and I’ll be at the bottom of it. ” This is meant as a joke, but it is easy to see that he is unhappy: mining was never a nice job. Also, when Billy doesn’t put Jud’s bet on a horse and the horse wins, Jud says that he could have had a week off work on the money he would have won. Because he is so angry with Billy, he kills Billy’s favourite thing: his hawk.
He hates his job so much that he is willing to crush his little brother. Billy’s aversion to the concept of becoming a miner brings about an atmosphere of gloomy predestination. There are three scenes in which this atmosphere is particularly clear. The first of these scenes is in Mr. Gryce’s office after assembly. He has taken it upon himself to cane Billy and some other boys for various crimes such as falling asleep or coughing in assembly. As the boys come into the room, Gryce says “Same old faces,”