if…. is one of the films that made me fall in love with cinema. I must have first seen it when I was twelve and it opened my eyes to what cinema could (and maybe should) be and to a whole mess of politics, class and revolution. Re-watching it over twenty years years later, and many times between, the film remains as vital and dangerous as ever.
Beyond the form, the performances, and the Sanctus, what I really love is the conviction of the boys. ‘Hair Rebels’ and Whips alike know everything and nothing all at once and it’s played perfectly. From their arrogant, certain declarations to their play sword fights and eventual violence, the film keeps you with them because they are pure and wouldn’t you love to be as unequivocal as you once were in your beliefs? Before reality set in and introduced you to the notion that two opposing ideas could hold truth?
The kicker is that the really revolutionary idea comes from the History professor. The boys don’t react, the idea is so big that they can’t even take it in. They stare blankly and the professor moves on.
This is one of the best films ever made.
Very Highly Recommended.