29 January 2003 | Infofreak
Brilliant mixture of social criticism and fantasy rebellion. One of the most powerful movies of the 1960s.
'If...' is a fascinating and powerful film set in an oppressive and archaic public (that's private to us non-Brits) school. It is one of the most original and innovative of all British movies of the 60s, a decade which began in some ways with 'Peeping Tom' and ended with 'Performance', two much maligned movies which in hindsight are astonishing achievements. 'If..' is equally as striking (and disturbing) as those two criminally underrated movies, but in contrast actually achieved quite a level of popularity on its original release. Even so I don't believe the movie gets the attention it deserves. Hopefully it will be rediscovered by a new generation of movie lovers as it is still very relevant and powerful even now, thirty five years later. Malcolm McDowell (his film debut) stars as the ring-leader of a small group of dissatisfied students who don't fit in with their ultra-conformist contemporaries. His performance is first rate, and in several scenes you can almost see Alex, his droog to be ('A Clockwork Orange'). The movie mixes documentary like realism with fantasy sequences involving "The Girl" (Christine Noonan), and eventually violent rebellion. A movie very much of its time it still is very watchable today and has lost little of its power and ability to surprise. Lindsay Anderson, arguably Britain's most underrated director, continued to expand upon McDowell's Mick Travis character in two subsequent movies, but 'If..' has a very different feel from those "sequels", if they can truly be termed that, and can be watched as a stand alone movie. I was impressed with this movie when I first saw it on black and white TV as a young lad, and I was still impressed when I watched it again the other week. And I will guarantee it will not be my last viewing of this brilliant film! A must see for anyone with any interest whatsoever in 1960s pop culture or film.