Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Gamekeeper (1980)



Reviews and Comments

Ken Loach's The Gamekeeper uses a documentary-like style to portray the life of a gamekeeper throughout the course of one year, so that all the various seasonal duties can be shown. There is no story to speak of, just an episodic collection of scenes that collectively paint the picture of a way of life. The film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and on that basis might be judged a great film.

But is it an interesting one? For some, sure. But there is a reason I am not a gamekeeper, and this movie spells it out. I just don't care about that kind of job. I'm sure there are very nice gamekeepers out there (though the main character here is not), and I respect the work they do. Doesn't mean I want to live it, either in reality or through the viewing of this film.

I have often said, of films I greatly admire, that one of the great things film can do is show you what life looks like through the eyes of others. Empathy is in short supply in the human race, and we could all do with a bit of it. But what view of life does this film show me that I might need, want, or otherwise value?

There are moments in this film I found wonderful. I liked a bit where a teacher talks to her students about pet ownership, and the subsequent scene where a father tells his son he can't keep a kitten. But these moments are overrun with the tedium of life. Alfred Hitchcock was fond of saying that drama is life with the dull bits cut out. I recognize that this film is about life, not drama, but I've have preferred more of the latter just the same.