If . . . | Chicago Reader

If . . .

Lindsay Anderson indulges his taste for social allegory with a tale of a repressive boys' school rocked by student revolutionaries who listen to African music. Though clearly about Mother England and her colonies, the film found its popular success, in that distant summer of 1969, in being taken quite literally. Anderson deserves credit for sniffing out the cryptofascist side of the student movement, and his presentation of oppression—sexual and social—is very forceful. Yet the film finally succumbs to its own abstraction with an ending that satisfies neither symbolism nor wish fulfillment. With Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, and Christine Noonan. 111 min.

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