Britannia Hospital (1982)
Article 5458 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Featuring Leonard Rossiter, Malcolm McDowell, Brian Pettifer
What it is: Satire
A British hospital is the site of an underground documentary, a union strike, violent protests due to the the presence of an African dictator, mad experiments, and an impending visit from the queen.
This movie is the third of an informal trilogy that includes IF…. and O LUCKY MAN; all three share certain thematic elements and the presence of Malcolm McDowell, who plays a character named Mick Travis in all three (though they may not be the same character). I’ve already seen the other two in the trilogy (both of which are marginally genre), so I had an idea of what to expect stylistically; Anderson’s movies can be fragmentary, episodic, politically themed and often include a bewilderingly large cast. This third movie is generally considered the weakest of the three, but it is the one that is perhaps the easiest to follow, as the impending queen’s visit provides a thread from which one can follow the story. It’s also the one with the greatest amount of fantastic content; one of the doctors at the hospital is engaged in Frankenstein-style experiments, and the movie in goes into full horror mode during one sequence. The movie feels like a bizarre cross between Monty Python (though less overtly humorous) and a Robert Altman film, and I must admit that it doesn’t quite have the impact of the previous two films. Still, it does make for an interesting watch.