If...: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]
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If…., directed by Lindsay Anderson (This Sporting Life), is a daringly chaotic vision of British society, set in a boarding school in late-sixties England. Before Kubrick made his mischief iconic in A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell made a hell of an impression as the insouciant Mick Travis, who, along with his school chums, trumps authority at every turn, finally emerging as a violent savior against the vicious games of one-upmanship played by both students and masters. Mixing color and black and white as audaciously as it mixes fantasy and reality, If…. remains one of cinema’s most unforgettable rebel yells.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• Restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček and assistant editor Ian Rakoff, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary featuring film critic and historian David Robinson and actor Malcolm McDowell
• Episode of the Scottish TV series Cast and Crew from 2003, featuring interviews with McDowell, Ondříček, Rakoff, director’s assistant Stephen Frears, producer Michael Medwin, and screenwriter David Sherwin
• Video interview with actor Graham Crowden
• Thursday’s Children (1954), an Academy Award–winning documentary about a school for deaf children, by director Lindsay Anderson and Guy Brenton and narrated by actor Richard Burton
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic David Ehrenstein as well as reprinted pieces by Sherwin and Anderson
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
As it stands, "If..." isn't only a great Malcolm McDowell film, it's also a great movie about the 60s in both Western society and more specifically Britain in its post-imperial hangover (one of the last British imperial dramas before the Falklands, the conflict in and evacuation of Aden--present-day Yemen--reached completion in 1967, probably while "If..." was filming). The title itself apparently comes from the famous Kipling poem which embodied the highest ideals of imperial Britain. College House, the school attended by Mick Travis--McDowell--and his two friends, is dominated by prefects, or "whips," seniors who control the student body in the name of the weak-willed headmasters and teachers, who represent the 60s radical view of liberal democracy.Read more ›
Terrific acting, and some unforgettable moments and visuals. But there are some pretentious moments as well, and the ending somehow isn't as powerful as it should be.
However, I've liked it more with each viewing, it's flaws bothering me less, it's strengths seeming more special. Perhaps not quite an all time great film, but a very good, and historically important and influential one. If you like the challenging, unorthodox, complex films that were a staple of the late 1960s and the 1970s then by all means you should see this.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
An interesting precursor to A Clockwork Orange. Malcolm McDowell is sensationally rebellious in this 60s prep school film. The DVD looks beautiful! Criterion never disappoints.Published 6 months ago by A johns
Need, I say more- does not play in my region. Pretty disappointing as I had not seen in many years and wanted to.Published 15 months ago by Koley
Excellent movie and the booklet inserted in the DVD case is very informative. The product shipped incredibly fast. Read morePublished on March 4 2014 by Marc Beaudoin
Youth desires freedom - always has, always will. This movie, with some strong acting, captures that yearning. Read morePublished on Dec 22 2009 by M. Byfield
This is not the original version of the film. This is the censored version and should be labeled as such. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2007 by Mutaya
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 morePublished on March 26 2006 by tilly
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 morePublished on Feb. 24 2006 by I. M. Jones
"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... Read more