Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1968. Memorial Enterprises. Screenplay by David Sherwin, based on the screenplay Crusaders by David Sherwin, John Howlett. Cinematography by Miroslav Ondricek. Produced by Lindsay Anderson, Michael Medwin. Music by Marc Wilkinson. Production Design by Jocelyn Herbert. Costume Design by Shura Cohen. Film Editing by David Gladwell.
One of the most influential academically-themed films ever made, Lindsay Anderson’s Palme D’Or-winning paen to rebellion is also great entertainment. In his film debut, Malcolm McDowell plays one of three students who endure the rigid hierarchical system of power, very similar in tone to their country’s class system, that exists at their British boarding school. Their reaction is to declare that rebellion is not only possible, but necessary. The film builds up slowly, showing various scenes that seem random in structure but eventually come to a unified point in the conclusion. Anderson’s use of both black-and-white and colour film stock seems a bit like a 1960s gimmick by today’s standards, but only serves to contribute a sense of nostalgia to a film that otherwise is as appropriate a lesson in resisting the status quo as ever it was. Some might be offended by its negative tone, others will find the ending offensive in light of real events in recent years that bear a striking similarity, but it’s an incredibly well-achieved satire that hasn’t lost any of its bite.
The Criterion Collection: #391
Cannes Film Festival Award: Palme D’Or
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best English-Language Foreign Film