Starring Malcolm McDowell, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan and Arthur Lowe
Written by David Sherwin
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Our last film 'The Falling' was set in girls school in 1969 and depicted a kind of strange rebellion by the pupils against the teaching authorities. This film - 'if....' also takes place in a school and was made in 1968 - famously known as The Year Of Revolutions. It was a year that saw protests taking place across the globe - race riots in the USA, political demonstrations and strikes in France and violent clashes in Northern Ireland and Eastern Europe.
Much of the unrest was student led and Lindsay Anderson's anarchic film is clearly inspired by the heady excitement of the times.
Mick Travis is a pupil in the lower sixth of a traditional boys public school - the staff are remote and eccentric and brutal discipline is enforced by The Whips - prefects appointed from the upper sixth who treat the junior boys as slaves and sex-objects. After a particularly vicious caning Mick and his friends plan to take control of the establishment.
Lindsay Anderson was one of a small but influential group of British directors in the 1960s whose work was informed by radical politics, the class system and a bold new style of filmmaking. Anderson made documentaries throughout the 1950s and had a parallel career in theatre at London's Royal Court until he moved into dramatic cinema with his 1963 picture 'This Sporting Life' - a harsh and gritty portrait of a Rugby League player in the north of England with a memorably powerful performance by Richard Harris.
'if....' was the first in a trilogy which continued in 'O Lucky Man!' and 'Britannia Hospital'. In each the character of Travis is brilliantly played by Malcolm McDowell. His seductive blend of terrifying charm and ruthless insolence was later put to memorable use by Stanley Kubrick in 'A Clockwork Orange'.
This is a groundbreaking film that uses an audacious mix of fantasy and reality and black and white and colour to produce an exhilarating satire that still has bite and relevance.
Don't miss it on a big screen.