If you are looking for a VHS or R0 DVD copy of the film contact
Cast | Deceased | Diaries | Formats | Notes | Pictures | My Summary | My Review | Quotes | Stories | Together Again | Together Before
|Michael 'Mick' Travis||Malcolm McDowell|
|Sammy/Voice of Genesis||Frank Grimes|
|Peter Mancini||Peter Machin|
|Vincent Potter||Leonard Rossiter|
|Greville Figg||John Moffatt|
|Chief Superintendent Johns||Fulton Mackay|
|Miss Tinker||Barbara Hicks|
|Professor Millar||Graham Crowden|
|Dr. MacMillan||Jill Bennett|
|Sir Geoffrey||Peter Jeffrey|
|Nurse Amanda Persil||Marsha Hunt|
|Dr. Houston||Catherine Willmer|
|Casualty Sister||Mary MacLeod|
|Phyllis Grimshaw||Joan Plowright|
|Ben Keating||Robin Askwith|
|Sir Anthony Mount||Marcus Powell|
|Lady Felicity||John Bett|
|H.R.H. Queen Mother||Gladys Crosbie|
|Aide||Ram John Holder|
|Cheerful Bernie||Richard Griffiths|
|Miss Diamond||Charmian May|
|Mr. Rochester||Valentine Dyall|
|General Wetherby||Roland Culver|
|Old Lady||Adele Strong|
|Taxi Driver||Ted Burnett|
|Private Nurse||Gabrielle Lloyd|
|Private Nurse||Barbara Flynn|
|President Ngami||Val Pringle|
|Mr. Banzai||Robert Lee|
|Captain Mbwami||Errol Shaker|
|Gregory||Gordon John Sinclair|
|Sound Recordist||Paul Kember|
|Intensive Care Sister||Patricia Healey|
|Casualty Nurse||Rosemary Martin|
|Man in Wheelchair||Ellis Dale|
|Miss Rowntree||Maggie Ollerenshaw|
|Guest Workman||David Daker|
|Guest Workman||Edward Peel|
|Guest Patient Macready||Alan Bates|
|Guest Patient||Arthur Lowe|
|Theatre Surgeon||T.P. McKenna|
|Theatre Surgeon||Peter Holmes|
|Theatre Surgeon||Salmaan Peer|
|Theatre Nurse||Janette Foggo|
|Theatre Nurse||Cora Kinnaird|
|Verity Anne Meldrum|
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Written by David Sherwin
The unfortunate loss of those involved.
November 27th 1981
Letter to Malcolm McDowell (extract): 'It was hugely encouraging that you responded to what you saw of Britannia Hospital. As you can imagine, it's been a tremendous effort - it was made to seem a long, long shoot, largely as a result of the daily and protracted anxiety about time, schedule, expense etc. Also, as you know, the whole affair was very poorly organized, with a production department which was never able to get us on to sets that were ready for shooting, never able to provide any alternative weather cover, etc. Do you know that every location was found by Richard Tombleson (1), against whose employment at first there was, of course, considerable resistance. Ted [Craig] proved very valuable in the end, and did a splendid job casting the actors who spearheaded the crowd. We'd never have been able to manage the crowd scenes if we'd only had extras, so I got Ted to go through all the letters I'd received from struggling young actors over the last two or three years, audition them and come up with a little company of twenty-two who, together with the three splendid pickets from the beginning, led all the demonstrations and attacks. A dozen of them also appear in the kitchens - an excellent piece of doubling which I don't think anyone will notice. Not that I care if they do!
1. Who played the 'Fat Boy' in 'if....'.
VHS - PAL / VHS - NTSC / DVD
"Malcolm McDowell On Lindsay Anderson" All-New 12-minute Interview with Malcolm McDowell
This is the final film of the Mick Travis Trilogy.
There are at least 7 different plots going on at the same time.
Filmed in 35mm
The hospital is Friern Barnet Hospital, London, England
Released on 5/27/82
'Rule Britannia' sung by Gillian Knight Arranged and conducted by Derek Wadsworth
Features Mick, Keating and Biles from if....
Nominated - 1982 Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm.
Won - 1983 Audience Jury Award - Lindsay Anderson
Nominated - International Fantasy Film Award Best Film Lindsay Anderson
The widescreen menu plays Hail Britannia. Studio Canal bought it out from EMI long ago, which is why it was released years before on DVD than the others in the trilogy.
A shot of Big Ben at night with bells ringing, like the start of The White Bus.
Then a group of protestors are out from of the hospital. It is dark, they are painting signs when an ambulance arrives and they block it. One geriatric, no admittance except by union dispensation. It goes around and checks him. Looks like intensive care, another croaker, let him through, but donít come back.
They wheel him into the lobby an and switch him to another bed. The nurse says you canít leave him there. Where do you want him? Couldnít care less, sheís been off for 10 minutes. They have time for tea and peeing. The patients die there on the stretcher before they come back. Outside a car races past the protest line and men run to cut him off and are hit. Whatís your name and business? This is foolish. Donít call me foolish. We love you Millar, weíll get you. Insects. He goes into the Millar Center. Overlord is his password. Big day for you? Big day for history. The guard reads a paper abut a riot. The doctor makes out with him, he stops. Genesis needs a new buttock, it is perfect Macmillan. See the left thigh, a trifle over flesh. Left buttock? He checks. There are alternatives. He checks them, heíll take the alternative. The temperature is stable. They have great confidence in Macready, deathís within in the hour. Two reporters are on the elevator. MacMillan doesnít even notice them. Think he spotted us? We are less that dust to him. Itís 6 miles down from here. I bet you get around, are you a yank? Citizen of the world thatís me. Mick says born in Liverpool, father was a stationmaster, grew up in coffee. He lives in Arkansas, got out just in time. Got to have a nose for these things. He takes a picture. Was that there before? See that truck over there. Spider can you read me? Yes. He wants to make a better deal. Mr. Travis is raised up. Calm down Michael, safe and sound. Relax we are on our toes. Itís one of his big exclusives. Heís best in the east, Red has been in the West. Going to be in a long day. He brings out some African black charcoal opium. On the TV is riot, 22 deaths. Kidís stuff. Theyíll learn. They light up.
Vincent is on his exercise bike, more bomb attacks are on the news. He wants everyone in with blood donations and the mortuary is needed. He calls a taxi, doesnít want one. He wants Biles, major incident, 150, donít forget your meeting. I canít likely. What about Millar? Heís there, better have him at two. He calls Millar, canít get in. Amanda his nurse answers, he says itís an ultra priority message from Genesis. She goes to deliver it and is told to leave. MacMillan takes it through the door. Millar says not now. Ever wonder how god felt on the 6th day? When will you give Genesis to the world? Son. Today the human experiment, tomorrow Genesis.
At the hospital it is chaos as everyone starts to arrive on bikes and ambulances, many are bloody. They want them out of there, they are on over 6 hours, itís been triple time. They arenít men, they are staff. He offers them time and a half to take the people where they go. They want double time. Also a hot meal, no bacon, sausages, since heís a Muslim. He has no way to get sausages. They are on the nurses plates, but donít make a precedent of it. They start clearing people out.
They have their own radio station in the basement and then he does the service and the DJ does the rest with a precordered tape. Biles goes to check the kitchen. There is a paper being read, ďHow much more must we take?Ē Heís going through something with sausages, they laugh. He canít cook the whole hospital that Biles wants. Ben Keating has it all under control. He wants to serve only proper English food. Biles says that they eat what they pay for. He reads a list of what the people want, itís not the Nairobi Hilton. Itís the same for everyone or nothing at all. They are all on strike and he has to take it higher up.
The radio plays in a car. If you are waiting for your ham and eggs you have to blame it on the bombers. Matron Duckbury arrives to explain. They will contain to serve and sufferer. No food, they can get drinks, an orange or water. If you are discharging you may give your own blood. They start serving oranges. The Colonel doesnít want it and throws it at her. The Matron arrives and asks if the president has eaten his yet? No. She will serve himself. There is a large room run like an African nation. He wanted Mando slices. This is the best they can do. A food tester eats a slice and likes it. A woman goes in to bring it to him. Then she is thrown out and all laugh.
A group confronts the matron about the food. They worked 25 years as a taxi driver to pay for this. The general worked 50 years. Food is not to do with the nursing, sheíll look into it.
The nurse visits Millar. They are ready in 42 minutes. She hands out a huge amount of paperwork. The nurse waves a light out the window and Mick sees that it's time to go and they shout to lower themselves down.
Millar checks on the patient, he is still hanging on. He talks to MacMillan, she tells the nurse he wants a digestive biscuit and a glass of milk. They go to turn off his machine as Travis coming down. They close the blinds, but are standing on their shoulders in the back and are able to get around the corner to get the picture. He asks Sammie and Red if they are getting it. They watching a documentary on chicken while stoned and think itís hilarious. They arenít paying attention, but it looks like itís being recorded behind them.
Millar uses a hot cutter to chop Bates head off with a heat tool. The nurse returns and heís gone. Radio - About the gremlins in the condition. Flurry reads the three choices of leg and lamb, bacon, eggs & lamb, bread & butter pudding and cherry sponges a chocolate mint for all patients in honor for their special visitor. Vincent drives into work and the scabs attack him. He runs the place. Phyllis Grimshaw cuts him off for his parking spot. Sheís a union head, has a package for a fancy dress, not every day you get to meet the queen. He doesnít know if there is enough room at the banquet, itís very tight. She oversees 600 people, worked with him for 10 years, theyíll will be. The old days are gone forever, Britannia belongs to the people now.
Inside she says no smoking on the job to a nurse. You arenít going to wear that to meet the queen to another. She spent 95 pounds on her dress for the queen. Vincent is going up the stairs they still havenít finished painting since yesterday, thatís the problem, canít do it, only can work 8 hours (Same story they always give). Biles tells Vincent about the food. He says to serve them the normal food, not special food. Why didnít I think of that? Vincent says you are an idiot.
Vincent is briefed by his secretary. Then he is introduced to the hospital elite - Sir Anthony Mount (A dwarf), Lady Felicity (a man) and Chief Johns from Scotland Yard. They were held up by the protestors, they want ten arrested or fired. Vincent says they work there, itís on their space, their time, legitimate complaints, canít get rid of them without anarchy. Itís the 500th anniversary of the queen founding the hospital. It is also the opening of The Millar Centre. They cover the route the queen will arriving. Chief Johns warns snipers will be on the roof after she arrives. Millar is the only one who hasn't arrived. Double red, get him.
Millar is being interviewed, those who cannot adapt will not survive to the future. They have to change the film magazine and start over. They say it was super. The most powerful potential weapon in mansí possession is the human brain. 10 million cells each can think. He cuts it in half. We could have 10 billion thoughts if only we could harness the thoughts. He puts it in a blender and pours it. Itís extraordinarily intuitive. He makes the reporter drink it. Millarís nurse is typing in numbers, her head is splitting, needs to write it down. Vincent calls Millar about needing him. They set her up to repeat what she said when she came in and now she wants a mirror. Millarís nurse gives her one, then goes to the window to let Travis in. Where the hell have you been? Itís freezing out there. He has his camera, the other man is left in the bucket. Millar comes around the other corner and they hide in a room to record him going by. She sticks him in a new room to wait. Itís full of medical anomalies. A fullsize skeleton which he pulls the mouth and it makes a loud noise, a jar with a fetus like he gave to the girl in if.Ö He then hears a whistle and sees a small door up high marked ďSterile area beyondí in futuristic writing. He opens it up to record Millarís group practicing the Genesis setup. The nurse comes in with a stretcher and undresses him as he bends over. The only thing left is his underwear against her crotch. She grabs his butt, he gets up, smiles and they make out.
At the meeting Vincent has to have one of the union leaders there. They will all want to be involved. Three will do it. Chief Johns will wait outside the door. They have no idea what Millar is up to or how long his display will be. Heís being interviewed on the way to the meeting. Miss Tinker says 45 pounds a head for food. Millar says sorry everyone. Hope I havenít keep anyone waiting. Peter Manciti and his crew from The BBC are following him. They want him to withdrawal, so they leave. Theyíve covered everything except his demonstration. Man Remade - a new epoch of medication science. He says he would still have people operating in barbershops. He calls Millar a charlatan. They need to know it wonít be offensive to the queen. They are both geniuses. Biles comes in, itís at flashpoint. The workers are picketing. They will meet again in 15 minutes.
They go down there and the kitchen workers are singing and dancing inside. Vincent speaks to them outside. They wonít unload the van. There is a 3000 pound invoice, the food is not returnable. Ben wonít let them take the food in. Biles goes to unload the truck and woman threaten to break him up. Potter wants to speak. He is given a large metal pot to stand on. The lunches are an insult, they canít cook for the people on their own. He wants a quiet word with Ben. They sign they shall not be unappreciated. They are going to need someone to represent someone for the queen at their table. He might have to take a token like OBE for his work. Itís possible. Ben comes out and says that he agrees for once they will serve the lunches. Men and woman will put this before anarchy. Then they start crossing arms and singing Auld Lang Syne.
Millar is ready to go. In 15 minutes they are ready, not for glory, but for science. Your part in it will not be forgotten like Freud, Galileo and Einstein. They have 48 minutes to do the experiment perfectly. She reads the inspection list at each table and they confirm. Table 1 Ė Thorax, right kidney, left lung, aortic artery, lower right femur, different lights. There are four tables we hear. Amanda the nurse wheels out Travis for Overlord and lets him in the secret room and he pops out dressed as a doctor. She shows him to the large frozen parts and he moves around them so he can hide in one of the freezers as he secretly tapes. He falls and locks the door he was going to hide in. He moves another big shank of meat to hide in a door and the surgical team catches him asking who he is and whatís heís up to. He throws the huge bag of meat and they grab it going for him. He crawls away until Millar comes in the other door trapping him. Whatís going on? Explain yourself. Mick pulls the lens like a gun. Get rid of him. He aims and fights as they run after him.
Red and Sammie are still stoned watching the protest against the African President who is at the hospital. Itís epic, call Spider, wake up! He calls, but gets no answer. MacMillan checks Travis out. They want 55cc of Sodium Pentothal. He calls for Amanda since he knows her. Millar wonít let them film it. At the radio station they have 95 minutes to go. Itís a special day, special food, you can hear the loyal subjects hoping to catch a glimpse of the special visitor. The big black protest line passes right by Redís van and they drive along with them to protest and keep chanting with them.
Inside they are counting on Chief Johns, they are getting rowdy. Vincent wants to go over the route with the elite. The painters still havenít finished. They explain the paint they got didnít match, they canít put it up. They have 10 minutes or they are all gone. They stop and eat. Itís a large hospital with 3000 nurses. They show the patients wards. Mrs. Roundtree has been here 2 years, lost her brother, can only communicate with her eyes. She blinks. They have a special patient they show off. Our most respected foreign minister, terminal Iím afraid. You wouldnít listen to me, this other Eden paradise across the seas, this England. Heís gone, pity he wouldíve predicated the visit. The Rudyard Kipling ward was just completed at 2 million pounds. The mason partnerhood completed the denotation. One nurse with a TV can watch 17 patents instead of 3. A woman is sitting there alone watching TV. Unfortunately itís not in use, shortage of cleaning staff. Sheís watching a NASA broadcast instead.
Ben is getting ready. No one told him it was Christmas. Nice to look good. Nice tie, borrowed it from a guy. The tie he got to wear is generations old. When you meet the queen the men bob, the women courtesy and say honored to meet you mom. They practice and fail, so have to do it again. The power starts to go. They say they have full backup supplies, no worries. Biles check on it anyway. Chief Johns hears the ruckus and says thatís a crowd. They are piling up at the fence. The black group demands vengeance for atrocities. They all say it is bad and getting worse. Ben says he worried them. A woman says they are vermin to be spewed out. Web to Spider where are you? Red canít find him so Sammie jumps on the roof to start filming and people pound on the bus and attack. Red tries to get started, but itís too late. Sammie goes flying and they smash into the van.
Sir Mount says itís gone out of control. A window is broken by a rock and a woman is injured. He wants through to the commander right away and to get her HRH out of there right away. The radio isnít working, they canít reach each other. Vincent wonít give in, the hospital is his life, he is not going to surrender. The lights go out and itís sabotage. They call the boiler room, but there is no line. The meat workers putting up the decorations are now who is cleaning. Biles meets Vincent and a man stops them from putting the power back on and Vincent beats him over the head with a shovel; knocking him out. Heís bleeding and Biles canít believe it.
Millar says it was too close a call. The temperature drop has ruined their patient. What about the intruder? They pull out Travis. Amanda says no and they hold her back, then chop his head off. He says to cauterize it and be ready to go. She takes the camera and says his work with living goes on.
Ben and his men are leaving. Vincent and Biles says itís solidarity, then are oing outside. They are going with the few. There are more inside. They argue back and forth. Remember the Battle for Britain? We were all on the same side! Then Vincent says you wouldnít know Karl Marx from a coffee apple.
Outside the protest is getting more violent. The Africans have Death to Ngami Child Killers signs. It costs 125 million pounds of your money a year to keep the hospital open while ordinary people die piled up like criminals. The regular patients need to be thrown out. They count on it. Johns says his men will hold to the end, but itís dangerous. They will get HRH. Biles has 26, 35 men. Phyllis is not deserting him, Vincent wants her petticoat off, heís going out. Millar wants his needle at full power. Vincent and Biles go out to surrender. He hands the sheet to Biles. He goes up to talk to the Africans and they make a deal. The force of progress wins. They will no longer live off the privilege of the wealthy few. In return they will go. Ambulances are waiting to let in those victims of the attacks this morning, let them through. The ambulances get through and itís all the foreign ambassadors and Queen in disguise. They peel her back and kiss her hand.
Millar says now and pulls back the sheet. Travis is stitched together from the parts of many humans like Frankensteinís monster including a black penis. He puts a disc on his head and his legs go up. They cheer. He reaches up for Millarís hand and almost crushes it. He is raised to full conciseness level, welcome to the world. Travis mumbles in confusion and Millar reaches in for his tongue and bites down hard until there is blood. Then Mickís head starts to come off and blood spews from the neck. He chops the head off his fingers, says nothing, minor abrasions. The headless body arrives, goes after McMillain and chokes her to death. Millar says farewell. So much for the humane solution, that dream is over. It shall be as she wishes. Today I say give Genesis to the world.
Outside a drum beats as all the private patients are let out. The elite meet the queen and the African king is booed when carried to the gate. His chair is overturned and he is ripped apart. They want the safety of HRH, sheís safe here at the castle. Amanda still broadcasts inside and they see theyíve been tricked, the queen is inside.
Vincent says the lunch, the tour, the ceremony. Biles gets the exit prepared as the masses are ready to storm the gates. The police wait for them and they start to climb the gates and are attacked by police as the queen is lead out to Hail Britannia. The protesters run after them as the queen is led to the Millar Center. Riot police are there holding the line. A girl offers one a flower and she gets punched in the face. A riot breaks out and they give HRH the key to get inside ignoring the Japanese anthem. Thy all have trouble with the key as music still plays live. More of Chief Johnís teams are brought in to hold them off on the left and right. Tracy is upset with them and get hit in the face with cabbage. They pound on the door to get it open and are finally let in. All the elite are there and are told Mr. Millarís demonstration will proceeded as planned. The doors are electronically protected and can withstand any barrage.
They are taken into a dark grey theater like a movie room. There is a large red pyramid on the stage. Millar tells them your royal highness, ladies and gentlemen we live in an age of revolution in thought, society and the safest is around it. What has controlled man for 20,000 years? As he speaks all the people outside start breaking in and smashing their way into the building fighting along the way. We are entering a new era, I am going to show you the face of that new era. The group breaks in. Prepare to evacuate. He says no! He runs out and breaks up the mob. Little men you speak for the future? I do. Come forward in peace and I will let the future speak for you. They all pile inside the theater. He gets on stage. Friends, fellow members of the human race. What to do we see? Wonder how we can cross oceans and space? Soon we can grow cabbage on the moon. What do men choose to do? Annihilate each other? Since the last great conflict there have be 230 wars continued. A motion picture entertained elite make in 1 month what a country can with a unique ITEM CALLED THE BRAIN. Only a few known men can save mankind, a man led by pure brain power. I have given it a name - Genesis, a new birth, a new beginning for mankind, people of today breath the future. He opens the pyramid and says it will be obsolete in 5 years. What you see can be put down to six years. Youíve never seen the face of the future, now hear itís voice. Itís like a giant brain with a stem and yellow eyes. It speaks ďHow like a god?Ē It repeats that over and over. The End.
Hail Britannia plays. PS - the characters and incidents portrayed and the names used herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name, character and history of any persons is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
This is a tough film to digest after ifÖ.
and O Lucky Man!, two classics that most people love without question as to what
they mean. Then BH comes along like the big bastard child smashing into the room
to end the trilogy. One of
the main problems is Malcolm is all over the first two films and here he's like a
cameo amongst so many cameos and he dies is in the most bizarre way connected in
pieces like the Frankenstein Monster then falling apart in a bloody mess. People ask
me if the film is any good, but
the problem is really understanding it and taking it in. ifÖ. while it takes
place at a British Public school in the 60s can be related to around the world.
Anyone who is or was a misfit in school knows exactly what it means and dreams
of escaping it all and running away and then taking over at the end. Some
fantasize about blowing up their school and later they did making the film all the
more relevant in these days of shootings like Columbine and Virginia Tech. OLM!
while not a relatable story is more of a rock and roll fairy tale and with
Malcolm on the screen for almost 3 hours you can't lose and it features all of
Lindsay's players in different roles which is so much fun to see.
I watched this film in the late 80s and didn't really get it, so I never posted a review. Then when Anchor Bay got the rights to it they contacted me to hook them up with Malcolm and that's how the interview on the DVD came about. So now I had a perfect disc to watch. I still needed to know what it meant though I asked the man himself. Malcolm told me the film was brilliant. I asked him what it all meant though? You have the uncaring staff, then you and the reporters, the protesters, riots, the strike, the Genesis project and the the Queen visiting all going at once. He laughed and said it was all the levels the English health care system, which Lindsay loathed. That explained it all. What would that mean to an American citizen? Little to nothing. No wonder why I didn't get it at all the first time. Of all Lindsay's later films it seems the most like the Free Cinema ones to me, it didn't appeal to the common man.
It certainly gave me a plan when I watched it the next time. It's a nice new widescreen print, so more went into it then you might've thought and it looks very good. Maybe a bit dark, but I've never seen it in the theater so it could be the way it was meant to be. Much better than the old VHS print that was the only thing available. Plus I was now armed with a hardcover copy of "The Diaries Lindsay Anderson" - now I had three times more armor to dig into the film. It reminds me of The White Bus when it starts so it goes full circle with going down the Thames, Big Ben and the darkness makes it's like it's B/W too.
The films gestation seems to go back to 1979 when he writes to Malcolm that, "The central heating engineers have been on strike at the brand new Charing Cross Hospital protesting against the dismissal of two of their numbers who had refuse to change a valve (or something) on the grounds that they would be crossing some demarcation line..." (from Lindsay's Diaries)
Then it goes into everyone's nightmare when it comes to hospitals. People just don't care, dead bodies are put wherever. They are waiting for some to die to use their parts for an experiment. Nurses have tea time and it's that or your life. They choose the tea, black comedy at it's toughest. As long as it's not you it's funny. Of course people are dying right there and no one is there and no one cares, it's just meat to them. Outside Millar also treats people like meat, he runs over people trying to get into his center. This will be a theme of the film - the system doesn't care about saving your life. It's just a joke - as long as you aren't the one getting help, then it's tragic. I know people complain about the US health care system, but this hell. Nothing so bad here, you can get help no matter who you are as long as you can get to an emergency room at a nearby hospital you can get good treatment.
We learn right away of some Frankenstein Monster experiment is going on, someone is building a human from parts, but we don't know what he's up to. Reporters have infiltrated the hospital and are also interested in what is going on. Mick introduces himself using Malcolm's own history. They jokingly ask if he's American, since he lived there by then. But describes himself as a citizen of the world since he would travel to the UK to still do things like this film. He says he was born in Liverpool just like Malcolm. He says his father was a stationmaster which I'm not sure if it's true, but he could've been before he ran a family pub. Maybe is sounds more romantic than being a pub owner. He also mentions growing up in coffee, which links him to O Lucky Man! He says he lives in Arkansas which isn't true, his wife at the time Mary Steenburgen is from Arkansas so that's in tribute to her. Ironically he thinks he's safe and sound, but for the rest of the time he is cutoff from the world because his buddies in the van start doing drugs and there is no help for him from now on. He has no way to contact anyone.
He mentions the drugs are from Africa maybe to signify they are more potent and maybe they got it from the Africans who are at the hospital. Maybe that's why they are there, as a front for selling drugs? They mention 22 deaths in the riot is kid's stuff, with what's going on there with the rioting about the Genesis project there could indeed be many deaths.
Biles from ifÖ has made it here as an assistant director, yes man type servant. He hasn't gone far in the world which seems like the perfect continuation of his character. Millar is back as a crazy scientist again, this time he talks about the Genesis project. What does it mean? The name implies go, the Bible, a beginning, starting over. Or just naming it to make himself feel like god?
Soon we see that every little thing is some kind of struggle or problem that must managed an dealt with, There is no teamwork, everyone is in it for themselves constantly making deals.
I can't imagine why they have their own radio station. For announcements? They don't have an intercom system? It's like they have their own pirate radio station, but seems more against them than for them. No one is shown listening to them, so maybe it's just a big waste for our entertainment.
Then we learn you can't eat what you want unless you pay for it in advance. You have to work your whole life it seems to plan out the menu you get when you are dying. What a useless way to live!
Then it turns out they have no food just drink! So they make mores deals to get food. Now with the fighting they want your blood too! Maybe they'll give you an orange for it. The fighting is going on everywhere, riots outside, strikes for food inside, no one is happy.
Then we find a president of an African nation is there and he's gotten to take over his room with so many people like it's his own country. He even has his own foodtester because he thinks they might try to kill him with the hospital food. This film just keeps getting crazier.
Lindsay himself wrote that the shoot was getting longer because of the scheduling an the production department was never able to get them sets that were ready to shoot. There wasn't even any money to pay Malcolm, so he did it for free just so he could be a part of it, something he never did before. He admitted in the script there was no main character, but he still did it. He thought that after Lindsay died it would be a film people loved, but that still hasn't happened in 15 years. People still wonder about the oddity that is the end of a brilliant beginning of a trilogy that really doesn't fit with the other pieces besides having Mick Travis and some other characters with the same name from the previous films.
The only way to look at the hospital itself is as a microcosm of England and all the problems inside as problems the country has all related to health care. The free health care doesn't work in the film and let's you die and the people who pay for it privately get all kinds of bonuses to beat the system, but even they have problems. They can't even get the food they wanted, having saved up for decades just for that purpose.
Mick is sneaking in to get pictures of Genesis and he'll never know if anything he did was ever recorded. Neither will we, it doesn't become a concern when the reporters are stoned and more interested in the riot than the story Mick was going for. Since Mick gets killed so the footage might not have ever been sent. Te nurse vows to take up his cause, but nothing comes of that either. The funny thing is Mark Hamill is one of the reporters, I can't imagine why he took such a small goofy role when at the time he was one of the most famous actors in the world having played Luke Skywalker in two Star Wars films and Return of the Jedi was a year away. He must've been a fan of Lindsay's because he could've commanded quite a large salary at the time and I'm sure he didn't get paid much for this. It's also the first time he worked with Malcolm as they would really work together with big roles in the famous FMV Video Games Wing Commander III & IV in the 90s.
After getting no food, of course they get a special treat for the Queen's arrival to make it look like they are treated well all the time. Then they change their minds anyway and say not to serve the special food.
Phyllis says Britannia belongs to the people now, but is there anything left as the protestors are ruining it?
The hospital elite being a dwarf, a man in drag and a man from Scotland Yard is seems weird for the sake of being weird. We learn the reason for the Queen's visit - it's the 500th anniversary of the hospital or really just another excuse to party?
We catch the end of Millar's interview where he says, 'those who cannot adapt will not survive to the future'. This is not a casual line, is his plan to force things his way or die? Then he switches to the brain and puts one in a blender so he seems more like a comedian than someone deadly.
Mick is finally back still running around with his camera we know is useless. The only reason he shows up it seems is for an interracial sexual scene. He is with Marsha Hunt, the woman Mick Jagger wrote 'Brown Sugar' about. She had his first child and Vivian Pickles says she was 'the star' on the set at that time.
There are more power plays and protests with the workers which breaks down into silliness when it ends with them crossing arms and singing Auld Lang Syne. Here that's only sung at New Year's, so it's out of place to us.
Mick is found as his stoned buddies get into the African leader's protest. It's a loose portrait of Idi Amin, of Uganda, his type of leader. He was trained in England and was backed with English weapons, which he used to butcher his own people. He was sold the weapons in return for the 'rights' to that area's natural resources. When such tyrants needed medical help, they came to England and got it for free under 'diplomatic immunity'.
On the tour is an inside joke when they show the Rudyard Kipling ward. He is the one who wrote the poem "If" in which Lindsay used the name for the first film in the trilogy. He mentions they have 3000 nurses, then they size and amount of patients would be staggering, but we never see such size or scope. They are trying to cut back, but that hasn't worked because they don't have enough people to clean the new wards which are useless. More of Lindsay's mocking and hatred of the system.
There is a mention the film takes place on Christmas, but there is no indication with a complete lack of decorations or weather to fit the season. There is more chaos outside and mockery about how to meet the queen instead.
They are under attack and the power is cut. Vincent loses it and attacks anyone who dares attack his hospital, which is his life. On the other hand Mick is killed and Millar's patient is ruined from the attack so Mick's head is cutoff to replace the other one.
The Africans are on the verge of taking over because of the high cost of the hospital that lets average people die. Then Vincent makes a deal with them, but it's a trick to get the queen inside.
Whatever plan Millar has for Frankenstein Mick goes horribly wrong as he bites down on his hand trying to fix him. The literal biting the hand that fees him I suppose. He has to chop the head off and says it's no big deal. Whatever this project is has been a nightmare. Is this the future man he hopes for? Some old style creature from Universal Monster films of the 1930s? He quickly abandons whatever that plan was and goes to unveil Genesis.
The Africans realize they are tricked and the riot is back on and the target is the building where Millar is which now has the queen and foreign ambassadors. A mockery of the 60s peace movement is shown not to work when a girl with flowers gets punched out.
Millar finally unveils Genesis saying he has harvested pure brain power. With that everything is possible and everything before us will be obsolete. All the brain does when shown is say "How like a god?" over and over.
So I'm still pretty lost on what Millar was up to with his two experiments. I can see why Malcolm would play the part. They'll never be another role like it as long as he lives and that's a good thing. On all the promotion he is listed as the star and some of it is off the wall with him as the monster or cartoons of his head bouncing away on a spring.
I've never seen a film with so many plots and subplots going on at once that just never tie up. Whatever happened to the reporters? Are they going to reveal anything that might change the future? There is no knockout punch at the end. Is that the point? Is it all about man's folly to be like gods? Is the brain really saying, "How am I like a god?" Since it doesn't do anything? While I understand the film more on the second time around, I still think it is messy and doesn't do ifÖ. and OLM! Justice. Those films I would watch again, but not BH. Those films get better with age and were ahead of their time becoming more prophetic as time goes by. BH seems to be going the opposite way and is becoming lost to the past. The present is the fight over Universal Health Care and how that doesn't work and how illegals overrunning the country get free health care and are putting hospitals out of business. If that's what BH would've been about he could've been decades ahead of his time. Maybe that's what he is partially saying how the system doesn't work and we need something better and in that he is right. It is one thing to just offer a vicious attack on the system, you have to offer up something better.
The film bombed in England and didn't last long, surprisingly it was much more popular in France making more in 2 weeks than the whole British run. If you read Lindsay's Diaries he doesn't write much about the film, but when he does it seems like it's negative and not much ever went right. To me the film is all over the place and without a central theme or character is just kind of collapses under it's own weight. He never seemed sure of the film and I think he wrote it best in the first mention I found of the film from early as 12/30/80. "From one angle BH is the logical, courageous development of my own style, my own thoughts and feelings. From another it is a stubborn repetition of ideas, which have already proved unpopular, unwelcome, unacceptable to all except an increasingly shrinking minority."
Exclusive - Behind the scenes with Lindsay and crew working on Malcolm's make-up.
"Britannia Hospital is really Lindsay's vision. There was no central character in the root form as it was written, but I still love the movie. To me, Lindsay can do no wrong. They didn't have enough money to pay me, so I did it as a freebie for him. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was a combination of everything, they hated it. Except the London Times critic, who said it was a piece of great British filmmaking. I think it will eventually be accepted and loved - probably when Lindsay is dead. Then, everyone will say what a great artist he was!" - Starlog 9/83
"a complete disaster at the box office, but that doesn't mean it was no good as a film. I liked it a lot" - Radio Times 2/96
Maxim: In Britannia Hospital, you had a horse's head transplanted onto your neck. Did you get any other equine body parts?
MM: I had all sorts of bits of bodies, every kind of body and I was completely naked. I said to the director, 'Can I at least pick the color of my penis?' And he went 'Yes,' rolling his eyes up. And I shouted 'Good! Black, black, black!' Which is probably very racist...
Maxim: Arguably. But why a black penis?
MM: I don't know, but then I made the poor make-up girl take it off. I said, 'I'm not doing it. It's your job, darling.' This poor woman had to put me in a bath, grab hold of it and give it a good wash. She's probably traumatized for life. - Maxim 9/00
"I wanted Malcolm McDowell for Britannia Hospital, because he is part of what I would call my 'cinematic family.' A major star does not necessarily need to play in major roles. If Malcolm appears for a relatively short time, he does it with panache. Then, too, even if Britannia Hospital is in no way a sequel to if... and O Lucky Man!, it is necessary to have seen them to understand it. Britannia Hospital is actually in the same tradition as the previous two films. In some ways, it is their successor." - Starlog 9/83
Lindsay visited the European Film College in Denmark, where two of his films were shown in the late 80s. He was particularly happy that the student audience received Britannia Hospital "with a lot of laughter and understanding, very different from the scorn and hostility with which it was received in this country. Well, I don't want to go on about Britain ó but it really was extraordinary to find how universally that film was derided as 'humorless' and 'undergraduate.' Of course those are the standard epithets with which anything unpleasant or threatening is dismissed." - Mainly About Lindsay Anderson by Gavin Lambert 2000
In 1983 at the Cinemateque in Ontario, Canada, Lindsay was there to screen Britannia Hospital but he also brought single reels of if.... and O Lucky Man!. He talked a bit, screened part of if...., talked some more, screened the last reel of OLM!, talked, and screened Britannia Hospital in its entirety. It was a great night.
1985 - Malcolm and Brian Pettifer were in Gulag.
1987 - Malcolm and Lindsay did the play Holiday at the Old Vic.
2000 - Malcolm and Alan Bates were both in St. Patrick: The Irish Legend
1963 - Lindsay and Arthur Lowe worked on This Sporting Life.
1966 - Lindsay, Patricia Healey & Arthur Lowe worked on The White Bus.
1968 - Malcolm, Robin Askwith, Geoffrey Chater, Ellis Dale, Graham Crowden, Peter Jeffrey, Arthur Lowe, Mary Macleod, Anthony Nicholls, Brian Pettifer + Mona Washourne were in if....
1973 - Malcolm, Geoffrey Chater, Graham Crowden, Peter Jeffrey, Arthur Lowe, Mary Macleod, Anthony Nicholls, Brian Pettifer + Mona Washourne were in O Lucky Man!.
1975 - Malcolm, Alan Bates & Frank Grimes were in Royal Flash.
1976 - Malcolm & Alan Bates were in The Collection.
1980 - Malcolm and Lindsay did the play and VHS Look Back in Anger at the Roundabout in NY.
Notes, summary & format © 2001-09 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net