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|Index||137 reviews in total|
73 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant mixture of social criticism and fantasy rebellion. One of the most powerful movies of the 1960s., 29 January 2003
Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
'If...' is a fascinating and powerful film set in an oppressive and archaic public (that's private to us non-Brits) school. It is one of the most original and innovative of all British movies of the 60s, a decade which began in some ways with 'Peeping Tom' and ended with 'Performance', two much maligned movies which in hindsight are astonishing achievements. 'If..' is equally as striking (and disturbing) as those two criminally underrated movies, but in contrast actually achieved quite a level of popularity on its original release. Even so I don't believe the movie gets the attention it deserves. Hopefully it will be rediscovered by a new generation of movie lovers as it is still very relevant and powerful even now, thirty five years later. Malcolm McDowell (his film debut) stars as the ring-leader of a small group of dissatisfied students who don't fit in with their ultra-conformist contemporaries. His performance is first rate, and in several scenes you can almost see Alex, his droog to be ('A Clockwork Orange'). The movie mixes documentary like realism with fantasy sequences involving "The Girl" (Christine Noonan), and eventually violent rebellion. A movie very much of its time it still is very watchable today and has lost little of its power and ability to surprise. Lindsay Anderson, arguably Britain's most underrated director, continued to expand upon McDowell's Mick Travis character in two subsequent movies, but 'If..' has a very different feel from those "sequels", if they can truly be termed that, and can be watched as a stand alone movie. I was impressed with this movie when I first saw it on black and white TV as a young lad, and I was still impressed when I watched it again the other week. And I will guarantee it will not be my last viewing of this brilliant film! A must see for anyone with any interest whatsoever in 1960s pop culture or film.
51 out of 56 people found the following review useful:
Rejection and acceptance: Mick and Jute., 22 September 2002
Author: mice_elf from Liverpool, England
I watched this movie, for the umpteenth time, when it was shown on T.V. last night and was happy to see that it hasn't lost any of it's impact or relevance. Like so many other British films of the same time "if...." is a classic. The storyline, direction, location and acting are all stunning and as an allegory the film has as much to say today as it did when it was first released, onto an unsuspecting public, in the late 1960's. Much has been said by other reviewers about Lindsay Anderson, Malcolm McDowell and the film as a social satire, so there seems little point in going along those, well trodden, paths. I guess one aspect of the film, which always struck me as pivotal, but which hasn't been mentioned, is the inverse negative correlation between the story of Mick (Malcolm McDowell) and that of Jute (Sean Bury). While Mick starts out as a mild non-conformist who becomes increasingly disaffected with society, as represented by the school, Jute, who is initially an outsider, a new boy who doesn't know the rules, is gradually accepted and becomes an active member of that very same society. Mick's initial revolt is that of returning to school still sporting a moustache. But although he is flouting the rules by virtue of not being clean shaven, it is done on a purely personal level and he takes great pains to hide his facial hair from those in authority. Later his actions become, by stages, increasingly confrontational and open. Jute on the other hand is first shown as a small, almost lost, boy with large, frightened, puppy-dog eyes who doesn't even know that prefects are not addressed as "Sir", let alone the myriad of other complex rules that make up the society into which he has been thrust. Gradually we see his self assurance blossoming as he is accepted firstly by the other "scum" and later by the powers that be. The small socially isolated boy of the first scene is later seen playing an active role in a rugby match, sharing an impromptu meal with the other scum, confidently carrying a trophy in College Hall and finally taking an active part (as an altar boy) in the very celebration of traditional values that Mick has, by then, utterly rejected. A thought provoking film, which like that other celebrated allegory from the same era, "Lord of the Flies" (1963), has many levels and can be as deep as you wish it to be. Utterly Brilliant. Oh yeah and my favourite quote was from Mick when asked why he was sporting a moustache, his answer, "To hide my sins".
51 out of 68 people found the following review useful:
One for your sons, 19 April 1999
Author: StevieGB from London, England
To get the most out of this film you have to be English, male and a
teenager; in 1979 when I first saw it I was all three. In the years that
followed I would catch it wherever I could, be it on television, in the
college bar or in some local, flea-ridden rep cinema. Now, of course, I own
the video. Every few months I dig it out and watch it, and more than any
other film or book it reminds me what it was like to be young and rebellious
and have my whole life ahead of me.
This was to England what The Wild One or Rebel Without A Cause was to America. Show it to your teenage sons; they'll remember it for the rest of their lives, and one day they might even thank you for it.
To dispel an old myth, while I'm here. Some scenes in the film are in black and white while most of the film is in color. The reason for this has nothing to do with art; they were short of money, and black and white was cheaper in those days.
34 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Just utterly,utterly marvellous, 15 May 2004
Author: ng271 from Cambridge (not by choice)
"If.." has always been a firm favourite of mine, particularly as I have been in much the same situation (minus B+W/Colour changes, and gun battles, naturally), and indeed still consider myself a hair rebel. It captures perfectly the horrors of public shool-The fawning, smarmy head-master, the rigors of cadet training and founder's day, it's all drawn from horrible reality.
Saw a late night showing yesterday, and on the cinema screen the fabulous direction and power of the photography- so still and unobtrusive, yet so iconic-becomes apparent. That final looped shot of Mick firing the brenn Gun is just stunning! I left the cinema feeling so goddamn moved!
At times the sheer 60s-ness, and random dialogue ("I like Johnny") can seem to undermine the viewing experience, but the spirit of bold rebellion which saturates this marvelous film wins you over. A favourite joke which I had never spotted before, is near the start, where the whips tick off a list that goes something like "Measles, tape worm, conformation class"..marvellous..
24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
A stunning work from a consummate master, 18 October 2002
Author: smiths-4 from United Kingdom
I first saw this movie when i was 15 and it shook up my world. I was aware of Malcolm McDowell having previously seen him as Alex delarge in Clockwork Orange. This film is a perfect surreal study of teenage rebellion and should be seen by everyone who is able. The direction is brilliant the supporting cast shine (Arthur Lowe etc)and the film as a whole is made up of memorable images that you'll take to the grave. Lindsay Anderson is one of the most important director geniuses of an era and i was very sad to hear of his demise. The memory of him lives on through this film and its two "Mick Travis" sequels!!
21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
If... not so far fetched, 28 March 2005
Author: aussiedad from Australia
I first watched "If " about thirty years ago on a black and white TV. I'm not sure whether the sensors had been active or my memory has faded. Probably the first option although the second option is also valid as many movies can and have been watched in the space of thirty years. The film struck me at first as having a strong resemblance to the school that I attended ie. A Certain College which was an ultra conservative military type school run in the old English style where there was no room for individuality. Having attended there in the same time-frame as "If ", both Malcolm's and my headmaster's comments and policies were of a not so convincing attempt to be cool and trendy. The hair cut rules, uniform rules, and the underlying fear of homosexuality were all present. The pecking order where the seniors or "whips" could have a free run with any lad who they fancied or abhorred by piling pleasures or punishments on them was something I also lived through. If fact the film "If.." was not all that far fetched. Upon seeing the film after a thirty year lapse and then being asked to write a report for my daughter who is at the age that I was when I left the establishment I mentioned was certainly a treat. After seeing the film again, I believe the sensors did have a field day in 1975 as they did in many films of that era. Most of the gun-play in the final scenes was cut out as were Malcolm's dalliances with the young lady. Some of the scenes depicting homosexual innuendo were also missing although, as I mentioned earlier, my memory could have something to do with that. The switching from colour to black and white was something that went unnoticed the first time I saw the movie. Upon discussion with my daughter I was relieved to find it was a financial shortage rather than some sort of intense flashback that I missed or didn't understand. I was thrilled at the opportunity to see the movie again. It was everything I remember it as being and more. The cast was great and the plot was realistic until the end when all hell broke loose. I'm sure I will enjoy it again next time.
26 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Anti-establishment masterpiece, 28 September 1999
Author: Shawn Taber (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Rock Forest, Quebec
This is one of the greatest films ever made, period! I've seen it at least 10 times, and it still manages to captivate me. The theme of trying to break away from the establishment is universal. This is also the pinnacle of the British "angry young man" films. This surrealist wake up call is not to be missed.
18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
As if the Speed of the Nail would matter..., 1 August 2004
Author: youngmurray from Brooklyn, New York
Lindsay Anderson's 1968 film If... is a beautiful film with a simple
message, yet the director's touch and the performances take it to
entirely different level.
If... takes place in all boys boarding school and stars Malcolm McDowell as
"Mick" (McDowell in his first screen role). Mick and his two friends feel
somewhat distant from their peers, school, and society. Their general attitude towards such things as sex, war, and authority could be call revolutionary. With surrealistic touches such as unexplained occurrences and changing between
color and black and white. Lindsay Anderson paints a vivid picture of "teenage alienation" before there was a term for such a thing. McDowell would later reprise his role of "Mick" in two other Anderson pictures O' Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital. A must see for fans of McDowell. Just a great film with a message that sparks positive, pro-active thinking. An important film that makes you remember to question authority instead complying to it rules. Sadly If... is not available on DVD at this time.
19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Absurdities of public school life run rife, 5 August 2002
Author: Ewan O'Doherty from Dublin, Ireland
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw 'If...' in April 2001, when shown by RTE (Irish television).
in a fairly typical British public school during the 'Swinging Sixties',
repressive atmosphere of the school creates tension and resentment,
particularly among the seniors.
Three of the seniors, Michael Travis (played by Malcolm McDowell) and his
two study room-mates begin to defy the authority of the 'whips', an elitist
group of four sixth-formers headed by Rowntree (Robert Swann), the head of
college house. Power-games and petty bullying by the whips is the order of
the day, meanwhile Travis and his friends leave college buildings and go
into town without permission from the whips, and they get drunk in the
study. Eventually, their rebellious behaviour is no longer tolerated and
they are brutally caned by Rowntree - Travis' roommates get four strokes
each, but Travis, saved until last by the sadistic Rowntree, gets ten. The
entire school has been sent either to the 'Sweat-Room' (juniors) or their
studies (seniors) so that they can hear the noise of the canings, in the
expectation that any displays of rebellious activity,on the part of any
other students,will be similarly dealt with.
The canings prompt Travis to declare war on society, and the three initially disrupt Founder's Day ceremonies with smoke bombs in the assembly hall. The congregation rush outside to be met with mortar bombs and automatic gunfire from the rooftops around the quadrangle. It is to be pointed out that these scenes are fantasy, a product of Travis' fertile imagination. Filmed on location, partly at Cheltenham College, Gloucestershire, England - where the director of 'If...', Linsday Anderson, was himself a student- the authentic setting instils a very real feeling of a repressive public school in the viewer's mind, as does the dialogue and portrayal of the hierarchical structure of British society, represented by the school.
While 'If...' was a significant product of its time, it still nonetheless has the power to shock the viewer, particularly if they are survivors of the public school system. While violent and amusing at the same time, both of these aspects being very well balanced, it is a very enjoyable movie. Highly recommended.
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Dark and Surreal, 15 March 2008
Author: freemantle_uk from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have just watched this film for the first time and I thought it was
excellent. The plot of If... was it was set in a English Public School
where senior students ruled and the younger students had endure a harsh
regime. The teachers were not much better giving out harsh punishments
including cold showers and caning. Malcolm McDowell plays Mick Travis
who along with his friends refuse to conform to the system. The films
shows how they resist and how the teachers and follow students are
unable to deal with them. The films ends with Travis and his friends
taking violence action against the school.
The film was influenced the counter-culture movement of the 60s. It also would have been influenced by youth movements such as the Mods and Rockers. Politically the film was also Left-Wing, showing photos of Marxist leaders such as Mao, Lenin and Che Guenna and Travis practising shooting on photos of the Queen and Politicians. Travis and his friends are shown to be intellectual, reading and coming up with statements such as 'Revolution is the only pure act.' If... also coinsided with the Paris riots and has been mistaken for being influenced by the events.
The film also combines a grim and stark view of the Public School system which was a target of the film, and shows things that possibly really did happen, but it also has surreal dream sequences. I feel the two together worked very well. If... also reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, which also started Malcolm McDowell. This was because of the idea of show a dystopia society (on a smaller scale) and the idea of youth running wild and uncontrolled. I would say if you liked A Clockwork Orange then you would like If...
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