Thursday, 2 June 2016

if...

I had the pleasure of revisiting Lindsay Anderson's film last night, my first time seeing the film in a very long time. Too long in fact, I had forgotten just how brilliant the film is - Malcolm McDowell's iconoclast, Christine Noonan's enigmatic beauty, those surreal touches - the chaplain in the drawer, the headmaster's wife taking a naked stroll; and the use of b/w, which once irked me for its apparent randomness now feels like a brilliant Brechtian device. Another remarkable aspect of the film was its matter-of-fact depiction of homosexuality which seems completely ahead of its time in an era when gay people were usually portrayed as outrageously camp. Reading up on the film afterwards, I discovered that Lindsay Anderson was a gay man who struggled with his sexuality, so in that sense, the affectionate moment between Wallace and Philips is rather moving.


Seeing the film again last night brought back of wave of nostalgia for the years I spend attending a boarding school, mercifully, as a day boy I might add, where I observed (from the sidelines) those same awful rituals. This was in the early 90's and some things it seems, never change...

One last idle musing on if... In the sequence where the boys are tasked with clearing out a basement, there's a shot of Wallace and Phillips throwing a large crocodile prop onto a bonfire, and it instantly recalled for me a shot from The Devils where Grandier uses a similar beast to defend himself against the enraged father of a jilted lover. I'm not suggesting Ken Russell devised the scene as an homage to if... but there can't be that many films with scenes of discarded stuffed crocodiles, surely !



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