Quick recap: A private school in England is filled with cruel prefects and delinquent students who later take their revenge by murdering a ton of people. It’s a jolly good romp!
Fun (?) fact: Malcolm McDowell had a crush on his female costar and and asked the director if there could be a nude scene for her. The directer said yes, but only if the girl (Christine Noonan) said yes. Her reply? ‘I don’t mind.’
My thoughts: I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this movie. It was rated X, which I think is my first on this list and is listed as an allegory as well as satire. Okay, then. I was so excited to see Malcolm McDowell as the lead role because I loved him in A Clockwork Orange, where he also played a delinquent teen. The first scene is of him arriving to school in a *gasp* mustache! That’s… kind of delinquent? The British have a much different view of what ‘rated x’ means than I do, apparently.
The movie switches back and forth between color and black and white, which led me to spend the entire time trying to figure out the symbolism. This is an allegory after all, so I knew there was some reason. My first hypothesis was that the black and white was fantasy and the color was reality but towards the end it seemed like the opposite might be true. I finally looked up the answer and it turns out that there is NO reason at all. The director just wanted random shots of black and white to distort the viewer. Great job, because I was totally distorted.
My main issue with this movie lies in the fact that it is supposed to be a satire of private schools and yet nothing really seemed over the top. One of the punishments involved making the boys stand in a cold shower for two minutes which sounds bad but not what I would consider cruel. My bias might have to do with the other massive amounts of pop culture depicting private schools in England being hellish. The prefects are mean but to be fair the three main boys spend their time getting drunk, stealing motorcycles and having sex on the floor of a coffeeshop with a random girl. And then there’s the mass shooting. I guess it comes down to the idea that I was supposed to root for Travis (Malcolm McDowell) and the other boys, but I didn’t much care for them.
If.. is supposed to be seen as a link between realist films coming out of England at the time, to the zany British humor we all know and love today. The scene where the boys kill the priest who later pops up in a box to be apologized to was reminiscent of some of the scenes in Brazil. Overall, though, I either didn’t get the satire or I have seen it done much better.
Final review: 2/5. Seriously, if you have to switch between black and white and color, make up a reason!
Up next: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I’ll be watching at the Alamo Drafthouse. Can’t wait for this one!