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And make no mistake about it, its the superb movie thats the star here. If... is, for those new to it, set in a British public school, and from this setting it has plenty then to say on authority and society. Directed by the late, great Lindsay Anderson, the film centres on Mick Travis, magnetically portrayed by Malcolm McDowell.
Superbly marrying fantasy and more realistic elements, If... is packed with iconic, and often quite surreal moments, leading right up the to the famed and indelible ending that sticks long in your mind once the credits have rolled.
A strong, powerful influence for many who followed it, If... is powered by Malcolm McDowells astounding performance (which would earn him the part in Stanley Kubricks A Clockwork Orange). Its arguable that hes never been better than he is here, and hes in good company, thanks to a top-quality supporting cast too.
Perhaps the greatest complement to If... though is that, decades after is initial release, its not only recognised as one of the finest British films ever made, but its regarded in many quarters as a classic of cinema full stop. And if youve not yet had the pleasure, this DVD release finally, belatedly, can open the film up to a whole new audience. Lets hope it does. --Jon Foster
The story is great. As someone who went to grammar school in the 60s, I relate to the oppressive, bullying atmosphere of a prefect-patrolled school, with Rugby and CCF used as instruments of power. Fortunately, we didn't board and we didn't have fagging.
We understood why boys MIGHT go crazy and start a revolution, but the system was designed to keep control, so we never did. But you can still imagine, with a degree of pleasure - what if...
The film centres on episodes, which exist sometimes in a form of reality & drift otherwise into a surreal fantasy, each builds towards the denoument which sits well next to the 1968 riots in Paris (If...managed to capture the zeitgeist- see also the Civil Rights riots in the States or the predominantly middle class anti-war protestors both sides of the Atlantic). If... drifts from colour to monochrome- taking its cue from Godard & influencing later works such as Natural Born Killers & Nixon. It was widely reported that this was due to budget considerations, and it is hard to mould a theory of why each colour is used. As in Nixon (1995) it shifts film stock son frequently, there is no definite grammar as to what each represents- I just think it heightens the surreality & reverses what is fantasy & reality (we aren't sure if any of this is occurring- especially if we bear in mind the following films).Read more ›