January 2, 2017


Ken Loach (1936-) b. Nuneaton, England.

Ken Loach

Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, Ken Loach studied law at Oxford before becoming an actor with the university’s Experimental Theatre Club. He began his career acting in regional repertory theatre, trained as a television director, and finally joined the BBC in the 1961. He directed various early episodes of the popular police series Z Cars (1962) before making his name in the Wednesday Play series, highlighting social problems with Up the Junction (1965) and homelessness in Cathy Come Home (1966). His debut feature film, Poor Cow (1967), followed a young woman’s relationship with a working-class thief. This was followed by the critical and commercial success Kes (1969), depicting a young boy’s alienation and the release he finds in training a young kestrel. One of the few genuinely radical voices in the British cinema, Loach’s films to date have all shown the plight of the individual on the bottom rung of society fighting the machinery’s inexorable weight. Family Life (1971) is the most disturbing statement yet made on film to explode the myth of the family as a protective and supportive unit. Family Life was the least commercially successful of Loach’s early films. This, and the depressed state of the British film industry during the 1970′s, prevented him from making another feature for nearly a decade. Instead, he returned to television drama. His later works continued to radiate a social conscience, the taut Northern Ireland political drama Hidden Agenda (1990), the working-class struggles of casual labourers in Riff-Raff (1991) and Raining Stones (1993). Loach’s next film, Ladybird, Ladybird (1994), based on a true story, follows the plight of a single mother to regain custody of her children. Glasgow was represented heavily in Loach’s next two films; the romance between a Nicaraguan refugee and a Scottish bus driver was conveyed in Carla’s Song (1996), and the character study of a recovering alcoholic in My Name Is Joe (1998). Bread and Roses (2000), shot in Los Angeles, was a denouncement of the economic exploitation of immigrant workers. In 2001, Loach returned to television for the Channel4 drama The Navigators, focusing on the knock-on effect of railway privatisation on the workers and public safety. Sweet Sixteen (2002) was a grim document of Glasgow life, but it’s ground Loach has previously covered with My Name is Joe, and this time he did so in a more conventional manner.

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