‘If… ‘ was released in 1968 by director Lindsay Anderson. It is a film from a Marxist perspective based on a privileged boys boarding school in the 1960’s, and the rebellion against the traditional functionalist system enforced there. Lindsay Anderson was a Marxist born in India in April 1923 whose father was a Scottish army officer. Educated at Cheltenham College, he announced there his intention to ‘rebel’ and spent the rest of his life carrying out this aim. The film ‘If… ‘ reflects this as it shows a group of boys known as the ‘Crusaders’ form a rebellion against not only the strict regime of the school, but society itself.
The film is structured into episodes under different headings to describe the different areas of interest such as college, term time, ritual and romance, discipline and resistance. Anderson’s film shows Marxist, Functionalist and Feminist perspectives throughout and their ideals in correspondence to the issues included. The school system is strict and teaches the boys to conform to the norms and values of a capitalist society. They tell the boys to ‘help the house and the house will help you’ which encourages the boys to obey the rules.
6th form students who follow all the rules are made into ‘whips’ who are then able to set and enforce rules which can also allow them to punish those who do not follow the system. The system does not allow individuality or creativity and privileges are given to those who conform. The school has assemblies, which socialise the students into the same norms and values, and imposes discipline. The army within the school system shows a form of social control and authority and the boys are expected to involve themselves in reconstructions of war situations in order for them to train.
This coincides with the element of team games which encourage competition. The Catholic faith is present within the school although the priest is corrupt and is shown to abuse the boys sexually in lessons, their confessions are also hypocritical as a student confesses to having sexual thoughts and is told that he is sinful to do so. The functionalist perspective is shown largely in the system as the elite pupils dominate everything and also that education is shown to shape beliefs and moral values and is a major mechanism for role allocation. The students are taught to cooperate with those who are neither their kin nor their friends.