While these two films are vastly different, given their formalist simarities (director, actors, cinematographer), as well as both being part of the “Mick Travis trilogy”, I was wondering which of the films do you prefer over the other?
For me, I prefer “if….” While “O Lucky Man!” is a fantastic film in its own right (listening to Alan Price’s wonderful soundtrack right now actually…) I wasn’t as emotionally impacted as I was with “if….”
If…? > O Lucky Man!
“O Lucky Man!” — as much as I love them both, the second of the Mick Travis Adventures is just flat-out more imaginative, and while I love “If….” dearly, I find myself gravitating toward the unique world of “OLM!” far more often.
“If…” for very personal reasons.
Im going to say If…
“If…” though I miss Rachel Roberts
o lucky man! will always be a nostalgic favorite, but if…. is the better film. fun fact: if…. was allegedly tupac’s favorite film.
O Lucky Man! all the way.
If was right to gun for British private schools, and still relevant- there may not be the flogging these days but the whole British system is still dependent on their ethos of class, empire and military. The church- C of E- still upholds all that to a certain extent, but is less important and seems more torn and critical of imperialist ventures these days. Good to see Arthur Lowe of Captain Mainwaring fame in O Lucky Man, an enjoyable film whose politics he can hardly have approved of.
I just watched O Lucky Man last night on TCM, and while I haven’t seen If… for a number of years, OLM for me is the better film.
Both are of their time, but OLM has a broader sweep. It satirises England at a pivotal time in the twentieth century. A country still in thrall to it imperialist past, and a country run by an elite that still believed that it could treat its ex-colonies and it lower classes as mere fodder. Anderson uses a surrealist narrative to journey through the social mores of a country obsessed with sex and money, but the inclusion of the musical interludes offers an insight into the changes that were happening in a country beaten down by class distinction, victorian attitudes and arcaic working practices. It’s rather dated but still holds up a mirror to a country that was grinding to a halt. It would be the attitudes of the young rock musicians that would help bring about social, cultural and political change. The Labour government of 1997 owed as much to Lennon and McCartney as it did to any political philosophy!
I like ‘If’ but like ‘O Lucky Man’ just a little better mostly because of the charming songs from Alan Price. I also feel that OLM is less dated than ‘If’.
(ask me the same question tomorrow and I’ll probably give a different answer though)
If…. , but OLM is also very good (unless you don’t like themusic of Alan Price).
I prefer ‘O Lucky Man!’ but it’s close. The soundtrack is great.
IF came along at just the right time in history & my life to have an impact. I really wonder if it has quite the same effect without student protests/riots happening in real-life (damned lazy kids!).
O LUCKY MAN probably holds up better because in so many ways society has not changed all that much & Anderson gives in more fully to his surrealist inclinations (though it’s hard to top the bishop popping out of a drawer in IF).
And then there’s the culmination of the MicK Travis trilogy: BRITANNIA HOSPITAL.
O lucky Man is my favourite as Anderson puts some greta British actors to good use .
Britannia Hospital is also a fave of mine since i saw it on Channel 4 many moons ago.
The film was clobbered unfairly as it was released around the time of The Falklands war .
Also O lucky Man has a wonderful Alan Price soundtrack
If…., by a very small percentage, since both films are excellent. O Lucky Man! is slightly more sprawling and picaresque; the bursts of surrealism seem more obviously satirical than the poetic expressions of If…., which, by comparison, seems more focused in its intentions. However, one shouldn’t overlook Britannia Hospital, which is in no way as disappointing as some of the earlier critics had suggested, and could still rank as one of Anderson’s greatest films.
IF… is pure cinema poetry, one of the most unique films I know of, and that’s saying something. O’ LUCKY MAN is great fun, but much more obvious in its satire and surrealism, as Simon said. Its kind of all over the place, with some parts much more effective than others, not very focused, and for me, those damn musical interludes almost ruin it. The part with Hellen Mirren and Ralph Richardson is what sticks with the most. I’ve been wanting to watch it again lately.
I have yet to see Britannia Hospital, I think its out of print.
I really want to see O Lucky Man but can’t find it anywhere, I really love If…. though.
What is the third film in this Mick Travis trilogy? Somebody please tell me.
See Harry Long’s comment above ^
I’ll vote for If…, but I love both films.
BRITANNIA HOSPITAL has a lot to recommend it, particularly the magnificent cast of British character actors like the late great Leonard Rossiter, the magnificent Graham Crowden, Malcolm McDowell, Joan Plowright, Richard Griffiths and even Alan Bates as a celebrity corpse. I always feel the script could be a bit sharper, the dialogue falls rather flat in places, but the film features one of the funniest and most appalling pieces of pitchblack grossout comedy I’ve ever seen.
IF…. is one of the landmark films (imo)
O Lucky Man! is one of my 10 favorite film of all time. If…. is a great film and also one of my favorites (top 60), but the later film is an Epic, and I’m a sucker for epics.
What I love about O Lucky Man! is that it presents an absolutely scathing, black portrait of human nature yet at the same time seems profoundly and paradoxically optimistic. Most great satire is fundamentally misanthropic, but O Lucky Man! is unique among films I’ve seen in seeming to love humanity despite the catalog of flaws it’s portraying.
When I had this insight, I immediately thought of the master of science fiction and fantasy satire, James Morrow. I’d written this about him, when we had him as a Guest of Honor at the literary sf/f conference I used to program:
“It’s a literary rule of thumb that a strong streak of misanthropy fuels every great satirist. One of the things we want to figure out during this year’s Readercon is how Jim manages to break that rule. As a frequent past attendee, he’s already part of Readercon’s family, and he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. That niceness is reflected in something ineffably positive at the heart of even his darkest visions; it may not be possible to write a less bleak novel in which all of humanity is destroyed than This is The Way the World Ends. We cannot think of a body of literary work in which the brightest and darkest views of our nature and our potential cohabit so comfortably and play off each other with such devastating effect. Come join us as we celebrate this unique literary achievement — and the sweetheart of a man responsible.”
The next time I saw Jim, I asked him if he’d seen O Lucky Man!, thinking he would love it if he hadn’t. His reply was unhesitating: “It’s my favorite film of all time.” So I think I’m on to something here!
If, BTW, you love O Lucky Man! for these reasons and want to give Morrow a try, start with Only Begotten Daughter.
And great to hear positive comments about Britannia Hospital, which I’ve actually avoided my entire life because I didn’t want to be let down. I’ll have to seek it out now.
I also have a copy of Glory! Glory! that I taped off of TV when it was broadcast 23 years ago, and have never watched. I have no idea why not.