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4.7 out of 5 stars21
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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. Roy Minton's script is flawless and doesn't feature a single line that feels out of place, due in large part no doubt to his extensive research for the film.

The extras in this set are short but informative. Both discs feature retrospective interviews about their respective production, and serve to tell why the film was made, and the impact it had. Although I have yet to listen to the BBC commentary, I did give the Ray Winstone film version a spin, and despite the poor audio quality it keeps your interest throughout, and he clearly has plenty to say. It is worth noting that his homosexual subplot is only in the version of the film he does not comment on, and he has been vocal about his dislike for this element in the past. It is also interesting to hear how Minton and Clarke fell out over some of plot threads eschewed in the film version, only to reunite as Clarke was dying. A couple of trailers round out the package.

Overall, Scum is not an easy watch. It's hard to emphasize with characters who want to beat each other up with pipes, encourage racial violence and commit rape unpunished. But for the message it carries and its sheer, unpolished presentation of what are basically true events, its a must see.
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on 12 October 2008
This set of the BBC original and the cinema release is well worth getting. The excellent and informative commentary on the TV original has the TV producer plus Phil Daniels and David Threlfall (the original Archer, tied into an RSC contract during the time of the remake). All the ins and outs of the TV ban are dealt with both during the commentary and in a separate interview with the producer, but of especial note among the extra is the interview with Roy Minton who is remarkably frank about Clarke's attempts to rewrite the script without Minton's involvement for the film - it ended their close relationship - and about his own subsequent falling out of favour with TV bosses.

I had only seen clips of the cinema film before viewing these two versions together so I'm not particularly wedded to it. The TV one does seem better: David Threlfall's take on Archer as deceptively gentle and disembodied means that the hard centre he reveals in the key scene with the warden obliged to supervise him is far more effective. Indeed, had Roy Minton been allowed, as he wished, to buy the original from the BBC at cost (once the rights had reverted to him following non-transmission) there would have been little point in making the film: the picture quality is fine (all film, not video) and could have been screened.
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on 9 February 2013
Being old enough, and being incarcerated in these sort of places. I can verify that these films, do indeed depict a true, if mild representation. These films are mild in comparison to what actually went on. So if you watch these and think it was a brutal regime, then what you want to do is treble it. Then you can truly imagine what people like me went through. I was fortunate than most, I made it to the other side. However, many didn't, and it's those I feel sorry for. The beatings, sexual abuse, torture etc was just an everyday occurrence and it hardened you. If not, then you were dead. Simple as that.
People who think these sort of homes were there to help, are simply living in cloud cuckoo land and have no idea of the reality of actually living, or rather surviving in those places.
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on 25 February 2010
i saw scum when it was first released as a film at the cinema in 1979 and watched and taped it when it was shown on c4 many years later albeit edited
the BBC decided a number of years ago to show the original in a late night slot which i also taped unluckily the tape got chewed by my vcr and the bbc has never shown the film since
I also managed to get a copy of scum uncut version with the original trailer and alan clarke interview as extras for 50p in a local charity shop the pic and sound quality is good mainly because i dont think it had been played much by the person who donated it to the charity shop.
I will most definately be buying the two disc set of scum the only thing is that the original and cinema version more or less mirror each other i also prefer mick ford as archer in the cinema version as he is a more convincing character
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on 13 April 2011
Brilliant film, although the racism is extreme throughout the film, great acting and screenplay always a joy to watch.
The banned version gave an interesting perspective over the cinema version.
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on 27 February 2016
Both the made-for-tv and cinema release versions of this hard hitting story are included in this package. The inhumane treatment of young offenders is brutally portrayed in both films to the extent that you might think that this could never have happened in a civilised society. Violence is the norm and even when any vestige of sympathy is shown, it is quickly dispelled. The borstal boys quickly learn that they are in a lose-lose situation. Even hard man Carlin, the "Daddy" cannot beat the system where even a suicide is treated with apathy by the officers. These are two gripping films, harsh indictments of a system which served only to brutalise teenagers who were already accustomed to lives of violence. The first dics shows the BBC version, banned for so many years and the second disc is the cinema release. They differ slightly and it is interesting to note that the banned BBC version does not contain any swearing so the ban was not on the grounds of the dialogue but the intensity of the violence. The cinema version is peppered with swear words and, curiously, was shown on t.v. before the ban was finally lifted on the original television version.
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on 22 September 2015
Frighteningly real and true to life tells us a story of life in the Borstal system, often quite harrowing what those lads endured, a story of survival and an often strict regime, not for the faint hearted, but definitely must be watched
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on 4 January 2014
I got this dvd for a friend and she was very pleased with it. Never knew they made a 2 disc edition of this film so when I saw it I had to buy it and it was very well receive. A great price 2.
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on 31 January 2009
BRILLIANT FILM. This is Ray Winstone at his best. The West Ham boy is the Cockney Al Pacino.
The fight scene where he `does` child abusing paedophile Richard Grimson, traitor Paul Wellings and `Grass` Al "Walter Mitty" Parlour is the highlight of this classis prison drama.
This is without doubt one of the best British movies ever made and up there alongside The Long Good Friday, Lock Stock and Get Carter.
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on 11 May 2014
Great wee film the 2disc addition is a must if u like this tyoe of film a must see film
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