Since we’ve last seen Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) in O Lucky Man!, he’s moved to America and rediscovered his lust for power and profiteering. Now a member of the media (with no less than Luke Skywalker – Mark Hammill – on his crew), he has returned to his homeland on a mission to expose corruption at Britannia Hospital. On the eve of a visit from Her Royal Highness the Queen, known to the efficient staff as the time-saving acronym H.R.H., the Hospital board risks all to facilitate Dr. Millar’s (Graham Crowder) insane medical experiments. His atrocities are on a par with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but with special effects and camerawork straight out of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead.
This vision of 1982 British society is crippled on all sides. The unions have pursued their noble aims of workers’ rights to an absurd degree to which virtually all work has come to a halt in favor of perpetual sandwich breaks. The hippies and activists are too enraged and violent to lend any credence to their causes of peace and fairness. Officious red-tape-obsessed suits are barely in control, making insincere compromises just to get through the day. The media fails at their job because they’re too wasted on drugs to even operate their equipment. And most frustrating to all, none of the phones work.
So the final entry in director Lindsay Anderson’s “Mick Travis” trilogy is obviously yet another satire of British society, this time with a hospital serving as its metaphorical microcosm. It sails a bit too far over the top for my tastes, especially in comparison with the excellent If…, which is so much more effective for spending most of its running time in strict realism before spiraling off into anarchic fantasy.
Must read: everything you could possibly want to know about Britannia Hospital, from MalcolmMcDowell.net