If…

| July 2, 2011

“Paradise is for the blessed. Not the sex-obsessed.”
Lindsay Anderson’s If… is a fun film. Despite the peculiar political appeals and odd surrealist moments, I believe Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) and Ferris (Matthew Broderick) would have been friends.
Set in an English public school (similar to a U.S. private school), returning senior Mick Travis and his friends set to rebel against the authority. The film is divided up into chaptered episodes which chronicle a year. As If… progresses, so do the clashes with the institution. The movie is full of adolescent confusion, and the antics constructed by the young revolutionaries waver between comedic and destructive.
Unlike Anderson’s first film, This Sporting Life (1963), If…‘s narrative is much sleeker and more enjoyable. With scenes shot in black & white as well as color, the film’s low production quality actually proves for high dramatic effect. Marked with sequences of surrealism, such moments are always enjoyable. The film is also enhanced by Malcolm McDowell. In his first role, the angst of Mick Travis served as inspiration for his Alex DeLarge in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).
Overall, Lindsay Anderson’s If… is entertaining and a step forward for the director. Released in the turbulent year of 1968, Anderson’s attack on public school represents a mindset rather than social appeal. In what culminates in an outright revolution on Founder’s Day, Travis’ trio falls into a bleak ideology. Advocating violent upheaval and war, the young revolutionaries appear to have no manifesto, but we can still enjoy the ride.

About the Author:

Daniel currently resides in New York City working as a freelance writer and director. He is a graduate of the Film and Video department of Columbia College, specializing in Italian Neo-realism and French & British New Wave cinema.
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