Explosive and formally inventive, this landmark in British cinema depicted public school revolution just as genuine revolt was breaking out internationally.
The script for If... had actually been conceived many years before, with the late David Sherwin drawing on his own schooldays to sketch out a hateful, patrician regime. Directing his feature debut after a series of eye-catching documentaries, Lindsay Anderson managed to persuade his alma mater Cheltenham to host the filming - largely by misleading them about the content of the film. At the heart of the tale is a mesmerising turn by Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, leader of the uprising.
The film was shot by Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondrícek - while his hometown Prague was undergoing its own convulsions - with camerawork by a young documentary photographer fresh from World in Action. Chris Menges went on to international acclaim and Oscar success shooting the likes of Kes and The Killing Fields, and today we are delighted to welcome him as our special guest.
Dir: Lindsay Anderson
UK 1968, 111 mins