Scum 1977

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This damning indictment of life in a British borstal was made for the BBC but deemed too controversial for broadcast. Director Alan Clarke reworked his material for the big screen in order to give it a public airing, and this is the result. Stalwart British actors Ray Winstone and Phil Daniels got their first big breaks as inmates suffering under a regime which makes no attempt to rehabilitate its charges.

Starring:
Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 47 minutes
Starring Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Mick Ford
Director Alan Clarke
Genres Crime, Drama
Studio ODEON ENTERTAINMENT
Rental release Not currently released
Main languages English
Hearing impaired subtitles English

Other Formats

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nonny on 17 Dec 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Impressive high definition transfer from Odeon. A considerable improvement on the dvd. This release features Clarke's feature film only, the original BBC play is NOT included.

New extras are a two part edition ( 30 mins/20 mins per programme ) of an ITV series from 1980 examining mulitcultural issues presented by Trevor Phillips called 'Skin'. The two part programme visits a borstal in Rochester, Kent. The emphasis is on young black males within the borstal system. Conditions within the borstal are very different from what we see in 'Scum', officers wear uniforms rather than civilian clothing & relations between 'trainees' and officers seem more relaxed ( one trainee is seen to give an officer a friendly pat on the shoulder ). We are told that incidents of violence are far higher between trainees themselves than between officer and trainee.

The other new extra is a 3 minute archive tv clip ( from 1985 presumably ) of the obnoxious Mary Whitehouse's court challenge to Scum.

The other extras are to be found on the previous 2 disc dvd release of Scum, including the Ray Winstone commentary track. The audio on this commentary track is rather poor, with Winstone's voice sounding unnaturally deep.

A grand guignol presentation that strived less for accuracy than shock value, Scum is a powerful film, but not the film it should have been. The sadistic officers, particularly John Judd's character, verge on caricature & the catalogue of violence ( which led to the original BBC play being shelved ) seems gratuitously over done. Perhaps most depressing of all is how the film & Carlin in particular have achieved 'iconic' status- the exploitative blu ray cover art proclaims 'who's the daddy!' ( their punctuation, not mine ).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Mullaney VINE VOICE on 6 Oct 2007
Format: DVD
I remember seeing Scum for the first time when I was a teenager and been shocked to the core at the brutality and violence. I don't know if it is an accurate representation of a Government borstal or not but if it is, I can't imagine being able to cope with life on the inside.

The film was made for the BBC but was deemed too controversial for the TV so they actually re-filmed the entire thing for theatrical release. Some of the same actors appear in both but they are sufficiently different to warrant watching both.

Ray Winstone plays Carlin, an angry young man sent to a particularly tough borstal after hitting a warden at another one. He arrives with Davis, a small, weak and frightened child who is immediately singled out by both staff and other inmates and bullied relentlessly. Carlins reputation means he is soon approached by the 'daddies', tough inmates who extort cash from everyone else on their wings. After a beating or two, Carlin decides he would like to be the 'daddy' and eliminates his competition armed with nothing more than a couple of snooker balls in a sock. While Carlin can take care of himself using the same brutality that is used against him, Davis cannot. It is heartbreaking to see his suffering, especially after the infamous greenhouse rape scene. The cruel warden who watches the rape is just as guilty as the one who ignores his desperate cries for help from his cell during the next night.

There is some light relief from the constant violence in the form of Archer, a petty criminal who makes it his job to be as awkward as possible during his stay. Vegetarianism, atheism and eventually converting to Islam wind up the devoted christian governor no end.

The story explores crime and punishment but offers no easy conclusions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul McNamee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 April 2008
Format: DVD
As most know, Scum was made twice. After the initial BBC version was declared unfit for broadcast, the film was remade for cinematic release. While the first was the one that was banned, the second is by far a tougher watch. Both films are presented here, alongside a host of extras, at long last.

Scum is one of Alan Clarke's many films which deal with violence as a way of life with little reason given for why it is. For Ray Winstone's Carlin, staying on top is simply a way of staying alive, and vice versa, in the tough realm of British Borstal, more or less a prison for young offenders. The inmates in this prison are left to their own devices, which of course culminates in tragedy (twice even, depending on which version you watch). There is no catharsis in Scum; no resolution and no character development. If anything, all we see is character disintegration, both guard- and self-inflicted. That said, there are touches of humanity in the film, often overlooked. Some of the boys keep their heads out of trouble, and some even help others, although in Carlin's case, only when it benefits himself.

The cast is great, with Ray Winstone all swagger (allegedly he was hired because of his walk) and talk, hiding well Carlin's myriad insecurities. David Threlfall and Mick Ford both give entertaining takes on Archer, the institute's resident free-thinker and cheeky bother-maker. The supporting cast of villains all play their parts well, most convinced that they're much more important than they really are. Egos run rampant, and you can really see the actors having fun with it. Clarke's recognizeable style is clearly emerging in this picture. Many have said that the BBC version feels too much like a documentary, which holds up even today.
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