Controversial story of the cruelty and violence inside a Government Borstal. The film powerfully and sensationally portrays one man's struggle against all odds to be top dog in a system that is intent on breaking his spirit.
The son of a bricklayer who also spent some time as a laborer before studying acting and directing in Canada, Alan Clarke (who died in 1990) got his start at the BBC in the 1960s. By 1977, he had directed his explosive and controversial television feature, Scum, starring Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) as a survivor at a corrupt and brutal juvenile prison. Harrowing, claustrophobic, and deeply tragic, Scum was banned by the BBC for graphic brutality (and, quite likely, criticism of the justice system), leading Clarke to remake it with Winstone and the same script as a 1979 theatrical release. Both versions are included on this disc, and each is a unique experience. The earlier Scum is a lean, low-budget, relentlessly nightmarish drama while its second take is moodier, slower, and intermittently shocking. --Tom Keogh