February 11th: Buts and maybes

 

45. If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

 

Malcolm McDowell is Mick, the angry young chap in this bizarre socialist rebellion fantasy set in that most austere of locations – the boys private boarding school (with an attached military academy no less). The film slips between the mundane reality of the class-system representation of daily life in the school and the fantastic and occasionally violent imagined events of angry Mick. By modern standards If… isn’t particularly shocking or rebellious, in the wake of the Columbine tragedy it might actually seem eerily prophetic, and modern audiences might struggle to see representations of class with the same familiarity as the late 60s audience. This dampened effect aside, If… is a window on a time when class lines in Britain were far clearer and political allegiance actually meant something. It’s an illumination of attitudes especially given as the relatively tame sex scene was viewed as quite racy. At least now I know why my father went to see it.

 

If… is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under ‘School Movies’.