(1976, GB, 103 min) Dir Adrian Fisher. Cast Kevin Thirs, Emma Russell, Pete Postlethwaite.
As Kes is for kestrel, Hedge is for hedgehog and the director, the working class magic realist Adrian Fisher, wouldn’t deny it. “The producer of my second film, Tony Goldfinch,” he said in a 1986 interview, “Was a man without imagination but in possession of a very fat wallet. The only way to sell him a film was to show him one that had already made money and then say to him ‘That’s what I’m going to make.’ After that he was very hands off.” Naturally Fisher used this freedom to his own ends. Initially Kes is imitated quite faithfully in the broad strokes – brother and sister Michael and Alice are growing up on a council estate in an unnamed Northern town. It’s the summer and their parents, it seems, are fighting all the time. In their back garden one morning they find a pair of wounded hedgehog and bond while nursing them back to health in the shed. Where Fisher detours is when the hedgehogs get better and swap personalities with Michael and Alice. The film then follows the Michael and Alice hedgehogs for a wordless half hour through the back gardens and green patches of the world around before returning home to find that their parents have reunited and all is well with the world. Returning to their natural form the hedgehog snuffle off into the night once more. Fisher, despite being proud of his new film, was concerned about Goldfinch’s response to his liberal interpretation of the Kes style film. “I needn’t have worried,” he revealed, “As the lights came up at the end his cheeks were shining with tears.”