This is the hard and shocking story of life in a British borstal for young offenders. The brutal regime made no attempt to reform or improve the inmates and actively encouraged a power ... See full summary »
Trevor is a 16 year old, sometimes-violent skinhead with no regard for authority, and would rather spend his time stealing cars than sitting in the detention centre to which he is sent. His... See full summary »
Four policemen go undercover and infiltrate a gang of football hooligans hoping to root-out their leaders. For one of the four, the line between 'job' and 'yob' becomes more unclear as time... See full summary »
'John McVicar' was a London Bad Boy. He graduated to armed bank robbery and was Britain's "Public Enemy No. 1". He was captured and put into a high security prison. Will even the highest ... See full summary »
Frankie decides he's had enough with his life as a street thug living on a South London estate, and jets off to spain where he meets big time businessman Charlie, who's currently running ... See full summary »
The earlier and original TV version of this movie, Scum (1977), made for the BBC, but banned by them, was never screened until around fifteen years later in 1991, after the director's death, and part of a season on censorship. The BBC said that they banned it because "There was too much incident packed into too short a time and that they doubted the veracity." So they thought it was pure fiction, but they also said that it "looked too much like a documentary". See more »
All Borstal inmates were subject to the same mandatory haircut of short back and sides, yet a vast array of hairstyles are shown throughout the film, including afros. See more »
In Britain circa 1980, there was a lot of hope placed by the new Conservative government in the recipe of the "short sharp shock" as the ideal way to deal with young offenders. This faith, of course, reflected a dream that the problems of society can be addressed through the fair application of discipline (and the illusion that discipline can ever be applied fairly). In the real world, prisons don't work. However much non-prisoners may be afraid of them, once inside, most become institutionalised and accustomed to their environments; of course they act as schools for crime; and treating people like animals is hardly likely to turn them into civilised humans. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that all power rests on a mixture of violence and consent, and the power of the prison officers is thus crucially dependent on their forming an alliance with the nastiest, most violent of prisoners. Welcome to the world of 'Scum'!.
The late Alan Clarke had a reputation for making television dramas of searing intensity. This background is apparent in 'Scum', which is directed in a flat, no-nonsense style. But it rings with horrific truth in a way that other prison dramas (like 'The Shawshank Redemption') do not: there's no redemption here, only the brutality of a nightmare world where everything civil has been lost. One typical detail is the recreation the officers arrange for the prisoners: basically just an organised fight, to release their energy and aggression in controlled circumstances. Clarke also had a reputation for discovering talent, and a young Ray Winstone made his name here, playing a "Daddy" only slightly less nasty than his predecessor. The sense of reality means the rape scene is still powerful, even in an age where such material is routinely handled much more explicitly.
'Scum' is powerful stuff, and a voice on behalf of the young and powerless (who continue to commit suicide in Britain's jails at an alarming rate). It also makes one think about the very nature of power (the way of governor remains personally "civilised", while presiding over his brutal staff, is truly telling). Recommended.
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