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If... (The Criterion Collection)

Malcolm McDowell , David Wood , Guy Brenton , Lindsay Anderson    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and Dangerous Feb. 20 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This movie with Malcolm McDowell is a strange and bizarre piece of work, and prior to the modern day obsession with serial killers, this one is ahead of its time. I saw this film many years ago, and it still stays in my mind as a "trip." Of course being made oin l968, it is thematic for the times. It's got the music of the 60's and the styles and the language, but the character is out there, and the ending...you've got to see it to believe it. And this is many years before the Columbine massacre. All in all, though, I'd classify this movie in the dangerous realm, but interestingly provocative. Recommended!! (Not for the kiddies, though!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Already a Lucky Man Feb. 21 2002
Format:VHS Tape
When i got out of the Navy and moved to Atlanta in 1972, there was a great hole-in-the-wall cinema (174 seats, one broken) called "The Film Forum". George and Mike Ellis served the best fresh popcorn in town, and ran movies you just didn't see anywhere else in the early 70's -- I first saw "The Boys in the Band", "The Ruling Class" and "Phantom of the Paradise" at the Film Forum. I saw so many great films there that i can forgive them for running "Harold & Maude" about every fifth week...
In addition to two shows a night every evening of their regular feature for that week, they also ran a special $1 midnight movie on Fridays and Saturdays. (In later years, "Rocky Horror" became the midnight standard for a couple of years.)
And that is where i saw "...if..." for the first time.
I've been an anglophile most of my life (beginning at a rather tender age with "Swallows & Amazons"), so i had some idea of what English Public (private) School life was likely to be like, and may have understood what was happening here more quickly than some of my firends who saw it with me.
In the context of what starts out as a pretty starightforward-appearing school film, Anderson & MacDowell give us a rather Marxist allegory of modern class struggle, steadily but almost imperceptibly moving from realism to a surreal parable of revolution.
The final sequences, with the little old lady with the submachine gun blazing away screaming "Bastards! Bastards!", the school prefects organising the "good" (loyalist) students to fight the Revolution and pitched battle raging, have stayed with me ever since, even when i wouldn't see the film for years at a time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nihilist fantasy - silly story, good acting Dec 22 2009
Format:DVD
Youth desires freedom - always has, always will. This movie, with some strong acting, captures that yearning. And it has the only attractive homosexual scene (romantic rather than explicit) that I've ever happened to see. Beyond that, the story gets silly. Yes, there were some harsh boys' schools, already reformed or gone when this film was shot. As a larger social analogy, "If" attacks a society that was at worst boring, at best wonderful, but hardly evil - Britain in the Sixties could not be classified as Stalinist or Hitlerian. Beyond our teens, most of us outgrow that sweet, intense need for anarchy. We accept with some degree of grace the limitations that define the human condition, usually through love for our spouses and kids who need us to behave in responsible ways. Other individuals (including an awful lot of artistic types) never do manage to mature. Most of the immatures just continue fantasizing like juveniles - that part of myself is still drawn to this film. Other immatures collapse over time into genuine nihilism, usually through intoxicants but sometimes violence, breeding sorrow and destruction for anyone unfortunate enough to love them. Incidentally, If is an exceptionally overpriced DVD (at the time of writing) for no apparent reason beyond corporate greed. So let's machine gun the capitalist pigs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Meaningful. Oct. 19 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I had to wait quite some time before I could actually lay my hands on If.... But then the waiting proved to be fully justifiable. This was time well spent, without doubt.
Naturally, after seeing Clockwork Orange for the Xth time, I began searching for more of Malcolm McDowell. Surely this man must have appeared in more excellent movies? Yes. I watched Caligula :-) and I also picked up Cat People, which was entertaining. Blue Thunder, too.
Now after If... (how many dots should I put here?) I must go see O Lucky Man! I'm talking nonsense here, but anything I might say about If... may sound boring. School? Black and white scenes? Surreal? Guns? Guns? Did I say that?
Nay, If you came this far and have now learned about If..., I know you'll keep it in the back of your head; but I assure you, after you have seen it you'll not be able to cast it aside. Acting is superb, the themes deep and carefully explored, and the ending is just 'explosive'.
In my top 10 list, where it'll show its (formidable) teeth to any rivals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting a Mass State in miniature Aug. 9 2002
Format:VHS Tape
"Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding." --Proverbs IV:2
The opening quote from Lindsay Anderson's if... is what three sixth formers (one year away from being seniors) named Travis, Knightley, and Wallace strive for, in a revolutionary way. (Note: there are seven forms {grades to us Yanks} in a British school below university level).
This is also the story of Jute, the first former who's nervous in his debut at College House. It's a strange new world, but it's stifling, rigid, full of discipline, conformity, obedience, and an adherence to religion and national pride. Figures--since they lost an empire, now they turn on their own people for their mass state. Mr. Kemp, a professor, tells the first formers: "We are your new family and you must expect the rough and tumble that goes with any family life. We're all here to help each other. Help the House and you'll be helped by the House." Professors, the student whips, and the bishop are the authority figures to be reckoned with. Jute is pressured into learning the names of the seniors and pronouncing school terminology correctly--e.g. local girls are called local tarts. But this is a well-known slice of British culture, the British boarding school. The communal study areas, dining halls, rugby matches, mandatory church attendance, war games,... it's all there. Scenes in b&w at times underline the lifelessness and austerity of the school, but also serve as a moving photograph that mirrors that photos Travis collects in his dorm room.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie and shipped incredibly fast
Excellent movie and the booklet inserted in the DVD case is very informative. The product shipped incredibly fast. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marc Beaudoin
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly brave film-making
A mix of naturalism, surrealism, dark humor and social commentary in an examination of an upper-class English boy's public school (the equivalent of a 'private' school in the... Read more
Published on April 28 2011 by K. Gordon
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT the original version
This is not the original version of the film. This is the censored version and should be labeled as such. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2007 by Mutaya
3.0 out of 5 stars please bring it out on dvd
please bring out this film on dvd as i am a film studies student and one of my films i have to write about in my A level is this film.. Read more
Published on March 26 2006 by tilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Please release this on DVD for pity's sake
Always voted as one of the most influential British Films etc. etc. and all the directors other efforts are available on DVD but not this one. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2006 by I. M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional analysis, still a great film
One of the great movies from the 60's -- or any other decade. When originally viewed in that time of civil disobedience and resistance to "authority" it was riveting, provocative,... Read more
Published on May 30 2002 by Daniel Dropko
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 year search ends...
My review does not have any sophisticated analysis of content or technical merit, just my gut reaction to this great classic of the times I grew up in... Its a great film! Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by D. Carlson
3.0 out of 5 stars "THE RULING CLASS CRASH!"
Still controversial? You bet! THAT'S what the late Lindsay Anderson's searing autopsy of the British Private School system is all about. Read more
Published on July 23 2001
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