Margaret Thatcher was a cruel person

Ken Loach turns 80: Show what reality is like

Ken Loach is considered an advocate and voice of the socially disadvantaged and marginalized. Many films in his long career deal with social grievances. Even at an advanced age he never tire of pointing out social injustices: With his film "I, Daniel Blake" about a craftsman who struggles through the government madness of the British welfare system after a heart attack and a single mother who was evicted , he won the Palme d'Or in Cannes for the second time in 2016.

Actually, Ken Loach wanted to withdraw from the film business for a long time, but the social circumstances and the social policy of the conservative government of Great Britain did not let go of him. "We have to look again at this cruel system of sanctions and benefits. The point is to tell the poor that it is their own fault and that they have no job because they are incapable or useless," he told the BBC. That's why he wanted to show how reality is: not only very sad, it also makes him very angry, he emphasized in another interview.

Ken Loach's "Kes" was the first feature film for the actor Colin Welland and won him the British Film Award in 1971.

From lawyer to actor and director

Before the son of an electrician, who was born in Nuneaton / Warwickshire on June 17, 1936, came to film, he completed his military service in the Royal Air Force. He then got a scholarship to study law at Oxford. Ken Loach had his first experience with the theater during his studies. The great passion for acting remained. So he decided to pursue an artistic career despite having a law degree. After engagements at touring and repertoire stages, Ken Loach ended up on television in the early 1960s.

After his first stop at the private broadcaster "ABC Television", he switched to the BBC in 1963. There he directed, among other things, the popular police series "Z-Cars". As part of the BBC's "The Wednesday Play" series, the director was involved in several critically acclaimed and award-winning films such as "Cathy Come Home" from 1966. Even here, Ken Loach showed his awareness of social issues. The film about a working-class family threatened with impoverishment after an accident and the loss of their father's job was described by critics as one of the most successful dramas about living conditions in England at the time.

Scene from "Riff Raff": Even for actor Robert Carlyle (m), a Loach film was a career leap. He later became world famous with "Trainspotting".

Breakthrough on the big screen

With "Poor Cow" - a film about an abused woman who hooks up with another criminal after her husband was imprisoned - Ken Loach made it to the big screen in 1967. Here, too, he received great recognition from critics. For example for his film "Kes" (1970) about an excluded young person who picks up and raises a falcon.

During the 1980s it was difficult for Ken Loach to implement his ideas. Under the conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he had to struggle with cuts and censorship: he had to cut his film "A Question of Leadership" (1980) about the steel workers' strike before it was broadcast. A four-part series about the failures of the union leadership during the strikes was not even broadcast in 1983 but disappeared from the archives. In the recently released documentary "Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach" by director Louise Ramond, Loach said on the subject: "When you make films about people's lives, politics is crucial."

In 2006 Loach received the Golden Palmes for the first time in Cannes for "The Wind That Shakes The Barley"

However, the social critic made an impressive return in 1990 with the political thriller "Hidden Agenda". The film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes. The international breakthrough followed a year later: with biting humor, Loach describes the decline of the working class from the perspective of London peasant workers in the critically acclaimed "Riff Raff" (1991). "Raining Stones" (1993) is the story of a father who, as a bouncer and pipe cleaner, saves money for a white dress for his daughter's communion. For this, too, he received the special prize of the jury in Cannes.

Critical voices from home

Not all Ken Loach films address the working class or the lives of the socially disadvantaged. His work also includes films that take up historical events such as the civil wars in Nicaragua ("Carla's Song) and Spain (" Land And Freedom "), as well as" The Wind That Shakes The Barley ", for which he won his first gold in 2006 Palme is inspired by history and shows directly and unadorned the Irish struggle for freedom against the British government in the 1920s. Loach also had to take criticism for his point of view.

Probably Ken Loach's happiest film: "Looking For Eric" with Steve Evets (picture) and soccer star Éric Cantona

The Daily Mail wrote about the film: "Why does Ken Loach detest his country so much?" Even before that, there were critical voices accusing the left-wing filmmaker of excessive partisanship and propaganda intentions. Loach proves that he is by no means a pure black painter with his dry sense of humor, which can be found in many of his films. With "Looking For Eric" (2009), with the football icon Éric Cantona, he even managed a true feel-good comedy.

As authentic as possible

Ken Loach also achieves the authenticity of his films through his idiosyncratic and consistent way of working: mostly amateur actors he works with. They only know a fraction of the script and often have to improvise. Everything is rotated in chronological order. Everything to make the stories appear as real as possible, as he emphasizes again in the documentary about himself: "You think, how can I shoot it so that it is believable. That I really think it is true."