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Britannia Hospital [DVD] [1982]

Price: £28.95
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Britannia Hospital [DVD] [1982] + O Lucky Man [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + If.... [1968] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Malcolm McDowell, Leonard Rossiter, Brian Pettifer, John Moffatt, Fulton Mackay
  • Directors: Lindsay Anderson
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • DVD Release Date: 19 July 2004
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001P045A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,795 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Director Lindsay Anderson and screenwriter David Sherwin continue their story of Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), who played the rebellious schoolboy in the 1969 film If. and the go-getter coffee salesman in the 1973 film O Lucky Man! In Britannia Hospital, Mick Travis is now an undercover investigative TV reporter in another allegorical story of the decline of the West. Set in a large, 500-year-old public hospital, Britannia Hospital is a dark, scattershot, Swiftian satire of the class conflicts in pre-Thatcher England. The hospital, staffed by megalomaniacal doctors, is in a state of near anarchy as its administration prepares for a visit from The Queen. Striking workers only allow "croakers"--patients near death--into the hospital, the kitchen staff refuses to prepare food until union leaders are bought off with promises of OBEs, and the head surgeon (Graham Crowden) conducts, with public funds, deranged experiments, while poor patients are deprived of basic services. On the day of the Royal visit, busloads of protesters arrive, and after battling with riot police, attempt to prevent the royal ceremony.

Working in a less apocalyptic and surreal style than that of O Lucky Man!, but still more fantastic than the American comedy The Hospital, Anderson and Sherwin try to anchor this extremely black comedy to a somewhat realistic setting while still aiming at nothing less than a comic indictment of all the ills of Western culture.


This is the third and final film in Lindsay Anderson’s powerful satirical trilogy dissecting modern Britain. The trilogy follows Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) from his boarding school days in If… through his transition from salesman to film star in O Lucky Man! to his present vocation as investigative reporter, on assignment at Britannia Hospital. The cynical reporter Travis lands himself at Britannia where Vincent Potter (Leonard Rossiter), administrator of the Britannia, is desperately trying to restore order in time for a visit by the Queen Mother, despite staff disputes and cost cuts. But even nastier, surreal disturbances are waiting to be unearthed by Travis in the bowels of the hospital...

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Scott-presland on 26 Nov 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
British cinema is all too short of visionaries. Hidebound by an over-literary word-heavy theatrical tradition and the Heritage Industry, our films tend to be realistic, small-scale and faintly cosy. After Michael Powell, there is only Derek Jarman - and Anderson.

The third film of the trilogy (after "If..." If.... [1968]and "O Lucky Man" (O Lucky Man! [1973]) is equally apocalyptic, equally surreal, and equally individual. The two strands of the plot involve on the one hand a strike-bound hospital desperately trying to prepare for a royal visit, and on the other a crazed surgeon trying, Dr Frankenstein-like, to create a man from scratch. On the television screens there are bombings, battery chickens and wars which stoned technicians giggle at; outside the gates there are Human Rights demonstrators protesting at the presence of a genocidal African dictator in the Private Wing. The influences of Bunuel, Vigo and Brecht are still strong.

Nothing escapes unscathed.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Dr. George L. Sik on 20 Aug 2005
Format: DVD
It's hard to believe in this age of successful dark comedy, from 'The Office' and 'Extras' to 'Brasseye' and 'The League of Gentlemen', how shocking this film was to reviewers at the time, simply by being pitch-black in its humour. Even recently, I heard some berk of a film critic say that it wasn't a patch on its predecessors, 'If...' and 'O Lucky Man'. Nonsense! It is easily the equal of 'If...' and rather superior to 'O Lucky Man', which, in my view, is way too long and rather uneven. Director Lindsay Anderson was understandably upset by Britannia Hospital's critical mauling, but its targets, from pompous royalists to selfish union leaders, from power-crazed professors to lazy, rule-bound porters are expertly brought down. Cynical coke-fuelled journalists, hospital administrators who would kill to look good (literally, at one point), policemen who can't control a situation without resorting to violence, vacuous wise-cracking DJs even a bemused Queen Mother who hasn't a clue what's going on...they're all there and rightly so. It was definitely a film ahead of its time. Interestingly, the production team apparently didn't research much what real hospital life was like before making it, but everyone I have met who has ever worked in a hospital finds it instantly and painfully recognisable!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Paul on 17 Feb 2009
Format: VHS Tape
I've got the PAL studio Canal dvd and , being Anamorphic 16:9 is VERY heavily cropped top and bottom and even slightly on the sides!
Even though the dvd is clearer; you AREN'T getting the whole 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Take it from me; you miss loads of the scene detail at top and bottom of the screen, if you buy the dvd version, in the hope of improving on this VHS.
Luckily I kept my Vid, before comparing them; and I'm very glad I did!
The VHS wins hands down, and the slightly inferior picture quality adds atmosphere to what is supposed to be, a very dingy, seedy hospital!
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Alex Campbell on 6 May 2002
Format: VHS Tape
If you liked If... and O Lucky Man, try hard to get hold of this film. Made in 1982, it is the long awaited follow up to O Lucky Man from 1973.
Not only is it directed by Lindsay Anderson, but it stars Malcolm McDowell and the rest of the cast from If... (including Biles) and the soundtrack is written by Alan Price of O Lucky Man fame.
The film is about pre-Thatcher England. Set amidst class war and union strikes, the film digs at everything from the NHS to the Royal Family.
A flop at the time due to it coming out during the Falklands War and the rise of patriotism, the film looks much better now and is very popular in the US.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richie77777 on 16 Nov 2013
Format: DVD
The second in the line of sequels to If, 'Britannia Hospital,' looks at the class conflict in a more obvious and more boring way. The message is lost and distracted by a mad surgeon's dream to build the ultimate brain. Director Lindsay Anderson would have been better off exploring further the class conflicts.

Filmed in 1982 (and set a few years previous), this depicts a time when the unions held the power in the country. Hell, even the Kitchen staff went on strike! The Porters were on strike and wanted cooked breakfast in addition to extra money, (a tall order when the kitchen staff were on strike!)

Travis, (Mr Mcdowell) is trying to to get an exclusive undercover television report about the illegal goings on. His two buddies in the recording van get stoned, which is vaguely amusing but that's all they do.

Some of the more comical moments were the hospital dj - a young a slightly slimmer Richard Griffiths who was interviewing a whole manner of hospital staff, (even a vicar) and when the patients of the private wing were served oranges and the African President orange slices!

Mostly it is film of black humour. The scene when a human brain is blended and drank, (I'm not kidding!) was particularly nascueating but the Frankstein moments funnier.

It attempts to convey modernality (the building that Millar inhabits would have been flash in 1982) but ends up feeling dated especially with its unfortunate two instances of racist language.

There was no explanation behind the street demonstrations, but they were among the most, 'Interesting,' parts of the film. Although only a generation ago, this was an era of a more noticeable class structure. Everyone in the kitchen spoke with a cockney accent and all the hospital managers were well spoken.
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