If... [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1968]

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Overview

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director of photography Miroslav Ondricek and assistant editor Ian Rakoff
  • Audio commentary featuring film critic and historian David Robinson and actor Malcolm McDowell
  • A 2003 episode from the Scottish TV series Cast and Crew, featuring McDowell, Rakoff, director's assistant Stephen Frears, producer Michael Medwin, and screenwriter David Sherwin
  • New video interview with actor Graham Crowden
  • Thursday's Children (1954), an Academy Award-winning documentary about a school for deaf children, directed by Anderson and Guy Brenton and narrated by Richard Burton
  • A booklet featuring pieces by critic David Ehrenstein, screenwriter David Sherwin, and director Lindsay Anderson

Synopsis

If...
Rebellious students at an English private school plan a violent revolt against their repressive environment in director Lindsay Anderson's highly acclaimed but extremely controversial drama. Centering on a small group of non-conformists led by Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), the film paints a distinctly negative picture of the British school system and, by extension, English society. Seeing the powers-that-be as humorless, bureaucratic, and needlessly restrictive, Mick and his cohorts indulge in small acts of rebellion, including sneaking into town to romance a local waitress. Their actions are discovered and punished with harsh beatings, leading the students to plot revenge. This effort culminates in the film's most famous sequence, a surrealistic depiction of a bloody uprising by the students against the adult world. Daring and unpredictable in content and form, If... mixes color and black-and-white cinematography as easily as it mingles satire with dark fantasy. The film's ambiguous attitude toward violence caused controversy at the time, as many commentators saw the film as a potential incitement to violence. It became a great success among younger, counter-culture audiences who appreciated the audacious shock tactics and embraced the satirical, anti-establishment message. Often compared to Jean Vigo's French classic Zéro de conduite, which also featured surrealistic boarding-school rebellion, If... has become a high point in the cinema of youth rebellion. Anderson and McDowell later collaborated on O Lucky Man! (1973), Look Back in Anger (1980), and Britannia Hospital (1982). ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Malcolm McDowell
    Malcolm McDowell - Mick
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    David Wood - Johnny
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    Richard Warwick - Wallace
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    Christine Noonan - Girl
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    Robert Swann - Rowntree
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