Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Art-house, Drama
  • 1968
  • 110 mins

If....

Film4 If....

Synopsis

A surreal take on the darker side of British public school life, which involves a band of self-styled 'Crusaders' rebelling against the brutality of their institution.

Critic's Review

Directed by Lindsay Anderson, a prime mover of British New Wave Cinema, from a scalding script by ex-public schoolboy David Sherwin, If.... proves to be something of a universal fantasy. An anarchic trio of disgruntled public schoolboys (Malcolm McDowell, David Wood and Richard Warwick) - plus one girlfriend (Christine Noonan) and a younger pupil (Rupert Webster) - rebel against their brutal establishment peers, before literally blasting their way through staff and sixth formers.

Here, the school (actually Cheltenham College), with its chapel and firing range, serves as a metaphor for an archaic, conservative Britain. Fittingly (although the director always denied this was deliberate) the film does appear to echo political uprisings taking place the year it was made, in Paris, Prague, and the US. Sporting less of a plot than a series of crazily inventive, titled vignettes (comparable to those from Jean Vigo's 1933 film Zero De Conduite, which partly inspired the filmmakers), If.... blends English surrealism with a near-documentary style realism to astonishing effect.

The use of monochrome cut into what is essentially a colour film is both a result of budget limitations, and a device to shock the complacent viewer. Anderson believed there should be no aesthetic distinction between fantasy and reality. If.... was also Malcolm McDowell's feature debut. His portrayal of the rebellious Mick Travis (wearing an expression somewhere between Archangel and Antichrist) was almost a dry run for his Alex DeLarge in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange three years later. McDowell also considers it his "finest film." He may be right.

In a nutshell: A seminal piece of cinema and amongst the greatest British films of the post-war years, with an absolutely knock out performance from Malcolm McDowell in his feature debut.

By Ali Catterall

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Robert Swann, Robin Askwith, David Wood, Peter Jeffrey, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan, Rupert Webster, Malcolm McDowell, Arthur Lowe
  • Director: Lindsay Anderson
  • Screen Writer: David Sherwin
  • Producer: Michael Medwin, Lindsay Anderson
  • Photographer: Miroslav Ondricek
  • Composer: Marc Wilkinson

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Serena

    Romantic drama set in Depression-era North Carolina starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

    On Film4: 3 Oct 9:00PM

  • Film4

    Destry

    Audie Murphy stars in this remake of 1939's Destry Rides Again, which is directed by the man who made that previous version, George Marshall.

    On Film4: 28 Sep 4:25PM

  • Film4

    Macbeth on Film4

    Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in Justin Kurzel's gripping adaptation of Macbeth, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Film4

    Lone Survivor on Film4

    Mark Wahlberg stars in exciting military action-drama Lone Survivor, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share