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An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.

Director:

Alan Clarke

Writer:

Roy Minton
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Winstone ... Carlin
Mick Ford ... Archer
Julian Firth ... Davis
John Blundell ... Banks
Phil Daniels ... Richards
John Fowler John Fowler ... Woods
Ray Burdis Ray Burdis ... Eckersley
Patrick Murray Patrick Murray ... Dougan
Herbert Norville Herbert Norville ... Toyne
George Winter George Winter ... Rhodes
Alrick Riley ... Angel
Peter Francis Peter Francis ... Baldy
Philip DaCosta Philip DaCosta ... Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Perry Benson Perry Benson ... Formby
Alan Igbon ... Meakin
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Storyline

An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A fact of life. (double-bill release with Quadrophenia whose tagline is A way of life). See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook [Japan]

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 September 1979 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Escoria See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Carlin: Vegetarians? I've shit 'em...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Norwegian cinema version was cut in the rape scene and the suicide scene. Later video versions are uncut. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Robertson's Marmalade Jingle
(uncredited)
Music by John Kongos
See more »

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User Reviews

 
On consent and violence
27 October 2004 | by paul2001sw-1See all my reviews

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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