catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 7 :: 2008.04.04 — 2008.04.18


Grant’s recommendations 4.4.08


This 1968 film about a boarding school in England doubles as an explanation (justification?) for the revolutionary zeal of the late 60s.  Malcolm McDowell stars as Mick Travis, a wild-eyed “degenerate” who defies the authoritarian nature of the school.  Travis embodies the countercultural movement of that era but his rebellion leads to a shocking conclusion that is perhaps more disturbing to present-day viewers in an age of frequent school violence.  Director Lindsay Anderson uses trippy and surrealistic editing techniques quite effectively and the choice of setting the story within the educational institution works well as a pervasive critique of society in general.  If… clearly shows how the desire to preserve institutional order can lead to an abuse of power and authority.  Christian hymns start to sound like invectives against naughty students and school cheers are propagandistic tools to promote loyalty to the institution’s codified system.  If you like this movie, be sure to check out Oh Lucky Man! as well.  Mick Travis returns in this 1973 sequel that is considered one of the great movie musicals about capitalism.  I guarantee you won’t be able to guess where the film’s going but when you see the end, you’ll be glad it went all the way.


MUSIC: Missa Luba—Ten Kenyan Folk Melodies

After watching If… you’re going to want to know where you can find the African music that Mick Travis selects from the jukebox in one of the most striking moments of the film.  Well, it was a single made popular in the mid-sixties from a recording of an African Mass called Sanctus.  Amazingly, this recorded mass set to Congolese folk tunes climbed to the top of the charts in England.  As far as I can tell, the record is not available on CD, but there are a few other recorded versions available.  Missa Luba—Ten Kenyan Folk Melodies is my favorite.  If you like Catholic Masses set to folk tunes, you may also like the Misa Criolla, an Hispanic mass by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez.  You can find this mass and other masterful works by the composer on the CD Ramirez—Misa Criolla.

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