McDowell's emergence from the scarf is an iconic moment; the birth of a star. 1968 was a revolutionary year, one of upheaval against political injustice (I'm thinking especially of France in ’68), making it the perfect time for a film like If.... to come about. I'm not sure it could be made today.
3.8 stars. A bit overly long and uneven in quality but it has fire in its guts and that's what counts. You don't notice the beating while it happens as it feels like play fighting, but then when the credits roll you notice you have bruises. McDowell has an endlessly fascinating face and pugilistic grace. Mick Travis is a real piece of work in this film, but not yet complacently pushed around...
Lumpen dogmatism from Anderson taking broad pot shots at his usual pet hates. Despite an insouciant swagger (and a sometimes accurate representation of school life), the anarchy and sub-Bunuelian digressions haven’t aged too well. It’s all very well shooting down your establishment, but to replace it with what? No solutions provided...
(2.5) Afters seeing it on so many "movies you have to see" lists I must confess it left me with the "I guess it's okay" feeling unfortunately. The problem is that while it aims to portray the clash within an English school (rigidity of upper class twits and the problems of people who don't fit into the mold) it ends up being so farcical that it loses any punch Or perhaps it's just an English thing.
'IF....' is both a vital document of British cultural history and a timeless satire on the rituals and mechanics of power, indoctrination and subversion. A scrupulous and compelling realism interacts with a profound and poetic surrealism and hardly a scene goes by without some subtle and wonderful quirk of characterization or imagination. Anderson's masterpiece is one of the most remarkable films in cinema history.
Many British boarding schools have destroyed many men's lives in sinister ways. Mega patriarchal structures where all forms of abuse and violence have been sugar coated with fanatic programming about morals, patriotism and leadership. This film shows magnificently how some of these men became monsters. I agree with someones' comment, the school should have been burnt at the end.
Sarcastic critique with surreal undertones of the entrenched British Establishment of the 60s which remains oddly contemporaneous. Led by a charismatic Malcolm McDowell, If... goes beyond the disturbing portrayal of a repressive public school machine to reach a much wider spectrum creating a liberating and melancholic illusion of rebellion and revenge against the system. It is its own 60s' Columbine mass shooting.
Vaguely interesting portrayal of public school life, but ultimately not a lot happens and I wasn't engaged or emotionally invested in any of the characters. I could watch McDowell glare menacingly at the camera for hours but other than being notable for McDowell's debut, there is little else of interest. Furthermore the ending is either surreal or horribly misjudged depending on your bent. Did they run out of script?