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4.5 out of 5 stars158
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on 11 June 2005
Just a quick comment on a wonderful film (the other reviewers have more than done it justice). I saw an interview with the director where he was asked how the brilliant idea had come for the colour/B&W scenes. He sheepishly replied that scenes of a file are rarely shot in sequence, and they had run out of money so had witched to B&W. Hence the seemingly artistic wonders of the transitions. Not much chance of that happening these days with overbudgeted films!
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on 8 November 2010
This film charts out a new term at an exclusive Public School. In particular, one section, 'College House'. The plot is about a very brutal regime verses a small rebellious element, in particular three students Travis (brilliantly played by Malcolm McDowell), Wallace and Knightly.

There are some shocking moments in this and a good number of very odd ones as well, such as the House Master's wife who like to wander around the changing rooms nude, and the Padre who is produced out of a draw in the Head Master's office. At the end, they seem to all fit in together. For additional effect, some bits of the film are in black and white.

The film studio used one college to film much of this and caused outrage within the college authorities, with the final scenes of this film. This film caused offence in many quarters fourty years ago. These days it is seen as an absolute classic and has collected many awards.
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on 11 July 2007
This 'must-have' DVD is an extraordinary, iconic and beautiful film by the late Lindsay Anderson. A film always undervalued by Paramount for whom it was their third choice to take to Cannes, yet it won the Palme d'Or and was nominated for both a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. So undervalued that Paramount eventually caves in under pressure to produce the DVD 38 years after its release with a commentary recorded by Malcolm McDowell four years ago!

I saw the film on its release in a small cinema in Glasgow and came out changed. It was a keystone of British late 60s film that included 'Blow-Up' and 'Barbarella'. The surreal elements (the chaplain emerging from a chest of drawers, matron wandering naked through the corridors, the cafe scene...) imply that the school scenes were fantasy, yet several elements accurately reflected some independent schools at that time.

For many years the mix of colour and monochrome scenes, which add to the film's mystique, was thought to be a deliberate move by the director. However a documentary 5 years ago revealed a more prosaic reason. At a time when colour film stock was significantly more expensive than monochrome when the budget ran out the director was forced to film some location scenes in black and white.

The haunting 'Sanctus' (taken from the Missa Luba by Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin) became a chart hit. The petty tyranny and growing resentment were beautifully measured and caught the rebellious spirit of the late 60s with the student riots in Paris, 'The Prisoner' on TV and the ubiquitous Che Guevara posters. The denoument was every rebel's fantasy and it was interesting to see that the recent Dr Who episode "The Family of Blood" had an unashamed homage to this climax.

This film must be on every British film wanted list. Better far, far too late than never, but better it had been released years ago.
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on 19 April 2004
Well, no DVD release yet, but even on video there's no excuse for not owning this beauty. Of course it's a matter of opinion, but...well, I make no excuses. Lindsay Anderson is a genius. McDowell is remarkable in his lead role...whatever happened, Malc? Peter Jeffrey's Headmaster is a joy. Anyone interested in artistic cinema should make the effort. Failing that, it's also a good yarn. Also reccomended: O Lucky Man, the sequel of sorts. British cinema never had it so good.
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on 22 July 2007
I saw this film in the cinema when it came out and subsequently several times on television; I have ordered the DVD from Amazon. I agree with all the praise lavished by other reviewers and won't reiterate. However, one of the things that makes this film memorable is the use of the African Sanctus as occasional musical accompaniment. The Sanctus when listened to alone is not a distinguished work but it has a mesmerising effect in the context of "If". The other thing that I enjoy on repeated viewings is trying to distinguish the exact point at which the story verges into the surreal. The closing shot (in two senses of that word) sums up the point of the film.
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VINE VOICEon 28 February 2007
Oh, it's almost inconceivable, nay ridiculous that this hasn't come out on DVD until now. It's still rather incongruous that even after this we'll be waiting for 'O Lucky Man' to complete the Lindsay Anderson's Mick Travis trilogy (Britannia Hospital's out, in a vanilla version from Cinema Club).

If you know "If...." already then it's likely you'll love it - if not then here's your chance to taste one of the best films from one of the best UK filmmakers of the 20th Century.

"If...." develops into an armed rebellion at a British public school. Associated with the 1960s counterculture movement, it was filmed at the time of the student uprisings in Paris in May 1968, and from the ethos of the time includes controversial statements such as "There's no such thing as a wrong war. Violence and revolution are the only pure acts", and "One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place." and features a number of surrealist sequences throughout.

Although it's a work of it's time it stands up remarkably well, from its fantastic performances and direction, as well as the strength of the film as a whole.

Not to be missed, one of the great DVD releases of 2007!!
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on 21 December 2005
This was a seminal film of the '60s yet no sign of a soundtrack on cd. How many students related to this film. And the music..........Missa Luba........well, absolutely exquisite; what a synthesis of literature, film and music. Amust for anyone interested in British youth culture of the 60's.
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on 22 July 2014
This is an excellent transfer to the Blu-ray format. The film itself stands the test of time and on a personal note, I enjoyed seeing some of my old school chums in the opening scenes of the new term at the school. While McDowell steals the film, the wonderful, understated performance of Arthur Lowe is a real joy to watch. At times burningly realistic in its portrayal of the public school system of the 1960s, the surreal moments, such as the chaplain being brought out from a drawer, never seem to jar. It's a cinematic tour de force, made on a shoestring budget, and one that will stand scrutiny for centuries to come. The appearance of 'If...' at my school's local cinema did much to hasten the end of prefectorial beatings - a legacy that generations of Whitgiftians owe to Mr Anderson!
Grab this Blu-ray version - it's a thought-provoking and joyous movie.
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on 7 July 2005
I have to say that this is not so much a review of the Video.
More of a plea to get this Quintessentially British film. Released on DVD format Now.
It would have been a first buy 6 years ago!
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on 30 January 2011
I was a 15-year-old Grammar school boy when Lindsay Anderson lobbed this cinematic hand-grenade into the heady brew of 1968's year of revolution. Due to my local cinema failing to clear people out between sittings, I saw it three times in one afternoon and evening. Yep, I liked it that much. Well, 'like' is far too weak a word. I was both stunned and hugely elated by it. The awful English public school Anderson portrays on screen was so like my own. Its teachers, mostly ghastly, often vacuous, frequently sadistic, occasionally well-meaning, could have been my own. The institutionalised bullying rang viciously true too.
Anderson uses the school as a stand-in for Britain, with its petty rules and restrictions, its out-dated, irrelevant, pointless and often surreal traditions, its suffocating class system and its glorification of poisonous ignorance. Mick Travis, if ...'s ultimate outsider hero, is the Guy Fawkes to this nauseous place, leading his tiny band of rebels against the cloying conformity of what passed for life in this microcosm of late 60s Britain.
It's a funny, surreal, satirical, occasionally shocking parable, reflecting with withering accuracy the chaos then enveloping much of the world as protests that had begun in opposition to America's brutal war in Vietnam spread to oppose stifling power elites around the world. Protesters took to the streets in their millions in cities from London to Tokyo, clashing with riot police and soldiers, students took over universities, revolution was in the air. Anderson's genius was to capture these troubled times and compress them into the enclosed environment of an English public school. One result that proved remarkably prescient was that Travis' little band were shown to be vastly outnumbered by the forces of conformity. It was a doomed revolution, but one that seemed even bolder for that.
As a film, it's a delight to look at, partly due to a lack of money that meant Anderson couldn't afford to shoot it all in colour. This leads to some particularly dreamlike sections being in eerie monochrome that enhances their dreamlike quality.
The acting is uniformly good, with Malcolm McDowell outstanding as Travis, giving a performance of alarming power that belies the fact that this was his first film role. This riveting central performance is, however, well matched by many others, including Peter Jeffrey as the apparently well-meaning headmaster. Even fairly minor roles are played to perfection. Arthur Lowe is extremely well-cast as the ineffectual housemaster, Graham Crowden is superb as the affable armchair revolutionary history master, as is Brian Pettifer as the long-suffering Biles, subjected to continual school-boy cruelty throughout the film ("Biles, why are you a freak?").
The film is full of memorable lines ("Run! Run in the corridors!" ... "Jolly, jolly good, Stephans, jolly, jolly good...") and startling images ... look out for one of my favourites involving the school chaplain and a confrontation in the headmaster's office. Priceless.
Oddly, there seems to be a scene missing. This is a sequence where the history master takes a group of boys, including Travis and co., on a field trip to a local church. It included some of the most politically pointed dialogue in the whole film. I remember it being there in the cinema and it is in the book that's lifted directly from the script (If... A story), yet it has been missing from every version I've seen since the original cinema release (and I've seen several). Does anyone know what happened to it? If it still exists, it would be good to see it restored.
By one of those alarming quirks of fate that pepper our lives, not long after I saw this film in 1968, I was offered a rifle, ammunition and 6 live hand grenades by a young army deserter. Fortunately for my Grammar school, I have been a pacifist since I was 4 years old ... but if ...
Incidentally, if ... you want to follow the further adventures of Mick Travis and friends, you can do so in the gloriously surreal O Lucky Man! [DVD] [1973] and the darkly bitter commentary on Thatcher's Britain, Britannia Hospital [DVD] [1982]. A fourth Travis film, to be called 'if ... the reunion,' was planned and largely scripted (by if...'s writer, David Sherwin) but, sadly, it was never made.
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