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If

Few films have blown my mind quite as completely as this one did.

Poster for If by Lindsay AndersonI was a member of the film society at high school. There was much excitement that this film was being shown. I had to get signed permission from my mum to see it. Immediately, that meant there was going to be something unusual or dangerous or grown up about it. It had all three, but I could still never have guessed what this film was going to be like. I’d never seen anything remotely like it before.

This film’s about anarchy breaking out at a public school. It’s a very English film. It’s Englishness and public school-ness didn’t prevent a strong connection in me with the characters and events of the film (in the way that I detested, say, Dead Poet’s Society, on similair grounds). Lindsay Anderson pushed situations as far as he could with incredible (or, is that uncredible) results. Malcolm Mcdowell became and has remained one of my very favourite actors.

The film switches into black and white halfway through. Not to make some kind of statement about conditions pre and post anarchy, but because they ran out of money to buy colour film.

Mcdowell and Anderson teamed up again for Brittania Hospital which may have been the second film in a whole new genre originated by If. Brittania Hospital just wasn’t as brilliant so the genre never really got off the ground and If stands alone. No other film like it.

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