Friday, July 16, 2010

If…. – 1968

I saw this almost 20 years ago so I had to rent it via Netflix to refresh my memory. It was considered shocking in its day with its portrayal of a school shooting massacre that has sadly become a commonplace occurrence in modern-day times. Malcolm McDowall stars as Mick Travers, one of the older boys in a upper class boarding school in England. He has a rebellious streak and little by little gets more and more fed up with the structure of the school until he reaches his breaking point.

This is 18 year old Robin’s first role in a major film. He is not one of the main schoolboy characters, but is one of the senior boys who does get to be in the background of many of the scenes. He plays “Keating”, a mischievous type who enjoys giving the younger boys a hard time. He is seen doing things like making fun of the fat kid and dunking a younger kid’s head in the toilet. There’s also a nice shot of him walking naked across the shower room.

A very absorbing, interesting film. Although I don’t think it went far enough if it was trying to portray the horrors of an English boarding school. Aside from some injustices and cruelty here and there I didn’t see how being a student there was really horrendously miserable. Perhaps because I’m looking at it from the point of view of someone who has herself gone to a private school with strict discipline (no beatings though, thank goodness!) and expectations, I dunno. I just really didn’t feel the abuse Mick took was enough to push someone (and convince his friends as well) into carrying out a massacre. From what I’ve read, the kind of kids that do this are tormented and bullied, isolating themselves and then finally lashing out in revenge. The character of Mick has friends, he’s respected enough by his peers. But, I suppose it’s pointless to try and psychoanalyze a character in a movie!

In Robin’s autobiography he mentions that part of this movie was filmed in Cheltenham, Brian Jones’ hometown. He was a fan and was able to find his house and stare at it in awe. Hey – me too! When I was in England in 1989 I took a trip up to Cheltenham and got a picture of myself standing in front of Brian Jones’ old home. I also got to visit his grave, which wasn’t yet there in 1968, but soon would be.

Why the fascination with Brian Jones? What’s the tie in for me to Robin Askwith? Who knows. For some reason I’ve been mesmerized by Brian Jones since I first saw a photo of him in a book when I was around 9. Like I’ve said before, Robin looks just like him but with a dash of Mick Jagger thrown in to give him a harder, sexier edge than Brian Jones had. Brian Jones is pure angelic. In looks anyway. Robin is him, but with a dash of devilness added!

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