Uncompromising story of life in a Borstal prison, a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mick Ford ...
...
Davis
John Blundell ...
...
John Judd ...
...
Peter Howell ...
Governor
John Grillo ...
Ray Burdis ...
Alan Igbon ...
Meakin
John Fowler ...
Bill Dean ...
Duke
...
Hunt
Nigel Humphreys ...
Taylor
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Storyline

Uncompromising story of life in a Borstal prison, a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Once the Vicious Scourge of the Streets ... Now Sadistic Animals of Borstal Prison! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

28 September 1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Escoria  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The word "Borstal" is a British term for a "youth penitentiary" but it has also been used for "detention centers" and "approved schools". Borstals were for serious offenders and extreme delinquency and were run by the Her Majesty's Prison Service. The meaning of the term "borstal training" was really just another way of saying "court sentence". See more »

Goofs

Archer, an intelligent character, refers to a Bible in Yugoslavian. There is no such language. See more »

Quotes

Duke: Keep it moving, there 's no sandcastles on Margate beach. Come on Archer, no slaggin' for you, you long streak of cabbage.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Robertson's Marmalade Jingle
(uncredited)
Music by John Kongos
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User Reviews

 
A raw, powerful film
12 July 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits

Tough thief Carlin (Ray Winstone) is transferred from his previous borstal after assaulting a prison officer to a much tougher institution where force and fear is the ultimate currency. The film follows the fortunes of him and the other inmates there and Carlin's relentless quest to come out as 'the daddy' among the other hard-case cons...

Nowadays, many people complain about the shambolic state of British Justice (once the envy of the world!) and, significantly, how Young Offenders Institutions are now just converted holiday-camps for those sent there who scoff at their lamentably lame punishment. Yet the very purpose of this film, made over 20 years ago, was to show the abuse of human rights that was taking place at the time in the borstals in Britain and to get something done in the way of changing it.

Having chosen a crime-free life in my youth and thus never being sent to a borstal (and not knowing of anyone who did!) I would have no way of knowing if the events portrayed in this film really took place, but if they were as bad as this, the film very chillingly gets them across. It's another one of those cult films where there's no real actual plot (i.e. Trainspotting) par se, but in it's drama function it very involvingly depicts the trials and tribulations of the inmates in their struggle to survive in the oppressive, violent world of the borstal and their individual characteristics that ultimately determine whether they'll come out on top or not. The bleakness of their world is further emphasized by the film's clever absence of a soundtrack.

As for the performances, Winstone cemented his future success with his ground-breaking performance here as the foul-mouthed, hard-cased, cockney to the bone 'daddy' who fights to come out on top in a world of aggression. All of the supporting cast do wonders in their individual roles do wonders to, especially those portraying the prison officers who are not far separated from the very thugs they're meant to be controlling.

Scum is a film that is thoroughly deserving of it's cult status, a film that spurned those in power into action and, though dealing with issues that are nowhere near as bad as back then, is no less as shocking and disturbing. *****


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