Malcolm McDowell plays one of the most iconic rebels in the history of cinema in If... as he leads a rebellion at a British public school. Filmmaker Lindsay Anderson meant to expose Britain’s class system as past its sell-by date. The strident sixties classic won the Golden Palm at Cannes.
Lindsay Anderson projected his radical anarchic vision of British society on an English public school in the late 1960s. Malcolm McDowell”s acting debut as the arrogant Mick Travis was widely acclaimed. Travis spearheads the revolt against the bourgeois school masters as he and the other pupils take up arms against their parents and the oppressive school regime. Travis proves to be a violent saviour in the course of the sadistic games between pupils and the establishment.
Travis is not the only angry young man in the film. Director Lindsay Anderson did not hold back in terms of style and form: monochrome and colour, phantasy and reality are mixed into an explosive cocktail.
challenging the authorities
In the 1950s Anderson launched a documentary film movement under the name Free Cinema to promote personal and socially committed films. He meant to expose with his films the downside of blind reconstruction optimism. If...shows that his social engagement did not end with the swinging sixties, the era when the authorities were seriously challenged.
Fifty years ago, students, factory workers and filmmakers challenged the Establishment, from Paris to Mexico City, carrying not only bricks but also agile and light 16mm cameras.