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This film from 1979 was Alan Clarke's picture on the brutality of the
British Borstal. It focuses in on a number of new entrants into the
borstal; Carlin (Ray Winstone), Davis and Banks, as well as examining
long time inmate Archer.
This piece is very very brutal, with possibly one of the worst rape scenes in the history of film (not only in the act itself, but the after-effects are soul scarring). The cast are very strong, with Winstone demonstrating why he is one of Britain's best, as he goes from keeping his head down to super violent angle of vengeance in the film's duration. In fact the most fluid scenes is also its most violent, as Carlin goes to the game room, fills a sock with two pool balls and batters the wing's 'daddy'.
The film also looks at the other spectrum of inmate - Archer. Intelligent, and very aware of this, Archer demonstrates his rights to the point of refusing to wear leather due to his Vegetarianism. He acts as the film's voice, vocalising Clarke's damnation of them borstal system through his intellectual arguments which get him nothing but a longer sentence.
Harrowing, yet breathtakingly well producded and shot, Borstal should be considered one of the great British films of the 1970s, and is still painstakingly effective, as the argument underlining the film is still very valid in 2006.
I have seen this film once, and that should be enough for many people, yet
they probably will have an urge to see it again and see the actors who are
now making bigger, slicker movies (Cat off Red Dwarf in Blade 2 and Ray
Winstone in everything!)
As it is about people around my age, this film hit me even harder. The rape scene counts as being the most sickening scene in movie scene history, yet it is all integral to the story. It is extremely bloody, racist and yet moving and heartbreaking. Ray Winstone is a cruel revelation as a top dog,a sympathetic yet violent hoodlum. Never been better since, I think.
The film moves at a breakneck speed and never seems to sag. I don't know what those employed at a borstal will think of it, but it would probably make them think more of the broken-down urchins as human.
A hard film to like, but even harder to forget. If I was rating it, a 3/5. I think I would give it a five if it wasn't so stomach-churningly realistic. Violence in films can be entertaining, but on no account this time.
Scum has to be one of the most graphic , violent movies i have ever seen. I dont know if this film was banned back in the seventies but wouldn't be suprised if it was( not that i agree with censorship). Ray Winston stars as a juvenile who is sent to this Borstal institution for beating up a warden in his last residence. If any kid ever had any doubts about how hard Borstal is they should watch this! I'm not sure how accurate the film is as regards the way the wardens treat the inmates but if it is true to life no wonder these kids turned out like they did! There are some very near the knuckle scenes in this movie which include , suicide, violence racism and male rape but i suppose these things do go on but maybe not all in one day as it seems in these film. 7 out of 10
The Late Alan Clarke's finest work. Ray Winstone is excellent as Carlin, while Phil daniels is brilliant as always. Mick Ford,Tony London and Martin Phillips are all convincing in their roles. As with all of Clarke's films it has plenty of social comment and realism. Watch it you'll find fewer compelling, thought provoking and moving films.
Scum (the screenplay) was originally banned in 1977 - the year it was
on the instructions of the BBC who had commissioned it. This was on the
grounds of it being both too realistic in its presentation and
simultaneously a work of fiction. The film follows the progression of
boys at borstal (prison for males ages 11-16) from arrival to the social
dominance of one of them. It's a blackly humorous and scathing study of
(physical *and* mental) violence inherent in any social system, and
particularly in the 'justice' system.
The screenplay was remade as a feature film in 1979, starring most of the original cast and featuring most of the original script, although a couple of scenes (featuring sexual abuse, though physical and racial abuse were deemed acceptable...) were presumably cut from the script because they wouldn't pass even the BBFC censor.
The original screenplay has subsequently been shown on UK television once. I happened to have the video running. With a high-quality tape in it. Lucky, that! It compares very favourably to the film, though the film format appears inferior (lower budget at the BBC), the quality of the performances is possibly better.
Scum is one of the most important screenplays to have been made, and shown, on British television, because it reveals the changing attitudes of the censors, and the nature of political censorship in the UK.
The film itself does not reveal this history.
Undoubtedly one of the best British films ever made. Occasionally disturbing, regularly shocking, and utterly realistic - overall a damning indictment of the brutality of places like Borstal and the culture within. Should be required viewing for all adolescents...
this movie is undeniably painful to watch. You have to see it though. it seems as if the penal system and all its machinations are out to suffocate every element of the individualistic spirit. At the same time, Clarkes slight tinge of biting sarcasm through the character of Archer adds that tiny sliver of hope and humour to keep you watching. The mounting tension between the maddening system and the cooped up youth is depicted in such a cold and realistic atmosphere, realistic in the sense that Clarke would always "follow his man" with long, sinous, steadicam shots.Yet, the opposition despite its heinous attitude are not complete caricatures. Yet, unlike "One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest" whose moral seemed to side with libery thru euthanasia over the defeated, Scum odly seems to pose no quick answers. Instead, there is a reverence here that leaves one almost in a surprisingly death-like gasp, a reverence that is not in the slightest condescending, a reverence that leaves one righteosly indignant in the same piercingly silent space as the defeated. For these reasons, it has to be one of the best Brittish films ever made.
In 1977 Director Alan Clarke and writer Roy Minto made a film about the
then cruel practices of borstals for the BBC1. It was raw, gritty and
rough. Sadly it was promptly shelved. In response to that the creators
would remake it as a theatrical production. The story remained pretty
much the same Carlin (Ray Winstone of "Nil by mouth" and "Sexy Beast")
is a young criminal who after assaulting a police officer gets sent to
a borstal (juvinial prison), with two other youth offenders, where they
find life inside hell with the authoritarian system brutal and the
criminal inmate hierarchy equally, if not more so. They must find a way
to survive. Carlin is able to climb the hierarchy, the other two are
not really that 'lucky'. While the original TV film had a gritty rough
edged quality. This one remained gritty, but feels much more polished.
Winston also seems to have a more-rounded believable presence in this
film compared to the earlier version.
My Grade: A-
DVD Extras: Commentary by Ray Winstone; Interviews with Producer Clive Parsons & Write Roy Minton; Poset & Stills Gallery; and Theatrical Trailer
Director Alan Clarke originally made this as a television movie
commissioned by the BBC. But they took exception to the incredible
intensity of the subject matter, especially the way that the camera
never flinches or cuts away from such horrors as suicide, rape, and
racism. Clarke refashioned the story (written by Roy Minton) as a
theatrical feature two years later, and made it angrier than ever, a
scathing indictment of the treatment of juvenile offenders in this
And that setting is a "borstal", or British reform school. Minton relates what happens from day to day as the staff go about their business of dominating their charges without ever bothering to really take an interest in them or understand them. One of the newest arrivals is a youth named Carlin (Ray Winstone, just 22 at the time), and Carlin is threatened by the big fish of the joint, or "Daddy", named Banks (John Blundell).
Our young protagonists may not be little angels, but they generate sufficient sympathy as we see what they are forced to experience. This particular borstal is quite the oppressive environment, and the staff, by and large, are very cold individuals. They really don't like their charges to show too much spirit, so one of the biggest thorns in their sides is self-styled individual Archer (Mick Ford, delivering a commanding performance). Among other things, he's an atheist and a vegetarian, and takes the latter seriously enough that he walks around barefoot, rather than wearing any sort of leather on his feet. Archer is this viewers' favorite character.
Winstone does a creditable job in the lead, all the way through his characters' arc. Julian Firth (as the very unfortunate Davis), Phil Daniels, John Judd, Philip Jackson, Peter Howell, and P.H. Moriarty round out this exemplary cast.
"Scum" isn't a particularly revelatory film, but it is quite sobering and offers some provocative entertainment. It's not hard to see why it would have a cult following.
Seven out of 10.
I saw way better prison movies then Scum so that's why I gave it only a five star rating. The dialogs are kind of cliché and boring. It's again all about the tough guards bullying the juvenile prisoners. The whole movie is just screaming and bullying. Some young scum intimidate the other inmates because I guess they are power hungry, dumb, and have nothing better to do in their pathetic life. It's all about being "The daddy" of the prison. The rules are absolutely ridiculous and too severe. It's not like that you will prepare young delinquents to fit in society. On the contrary that's how you create even more disturbed psychopaths. The actors were not that bad. It's just the movie that is not good enough to be remembered. To me it's rating here on IMDb is way too high.
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