he film opens on young pudgy hands incarcerated in handcuffs. The camera then shifts to the faces of three solemn looking teenage boys, Carlin, Angel & Davis. They are in the back of a police van. They soon arrive at their destination, Borstal. As soon as the door to the truck is opened, the prison wardens begin shouting orders at the boys
The institute is run like a bootcamp and the guards are severe; Carlin's introduction to the facility involves a verbal dress down followed by a beating; He is told in no uncertain terms that the wardens, Sands & Greeves, run this institute and they will not tolarate that status quo being jepordised by a volatile thug like himself. Especially since the reason for Carlin's transfer was because he assualted an officer in his previous place of incarceration.
Angel and Davis also face the wrath of wardens who belittle them, one because he is black and the other because he was stupid enough to run away from an open prison The film follows the fate of the three teenage boys with the emphasis being on Carlin's story.
When Angel is given a single cell, he is informed by the prison officers that this decision is based on the fact that most of the inmates at the Borstal are predijuice. Davis will share a cell with one other and Carlin will be in the dormitory, which will insure fast-track integration into Borstal society. He is told to watch out for Pongo 'The Daddy' Banks and his gang who are keenly awaiting Carlin's arrival.
Carlin, however, just wants to keep his head down, stay out of trouble and do his time quietly. He strikes up a friendship with the smarmy Archer, who is adopting a completely different approach to doing his time. Archer is a barefooted vegetarian reconsidering his atheist ways as he feels a religous pull towards Mecca. This is all a facade of course, he just wants to cause as much trouble to the prison officers as possible, ensuring that he will do every last day of his two year sentence.
Earlier we had seen a prison officer inform Pongo Banks about the three new inmates. He gives each one of them a personal welcome. Angel gets beaten up in his room by Pongo & Striper, Carlin is beaten in his bed and Davis also experiecnes the violence of "The Daddy" and his gang. The three new inmates also find themselves in trouble with the prison officers and on "Governors Report" for the aftermath of Pongo's welcome; Angel for having a messy cell, Carlin for fighting and Davis for stealing a radio. The boys are left with no illusions about the harshness and brutality in this institute of reform from both the wardens and inmates.
Carlin receives the extra punishment of some time in solitary to mull over his actions. Upon his release, back in the dorms it becomes quickly apparent that Carlin has been reflecting on his keep-his-head-down approach to his time in the Borstal. He has clearly been the victim of injustice and having realized how the institute is run, goes about recovering his integrity and asserting himself within a hierarchy that is plainly corrupt. This sets him on course for establishing a new order where there's a new 'Daddy' running things.
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By: Stuart Fitzgerald
Scum was one of the most controversial british films of the 1970's. Originally made for television under the commission of the BBC, it was never aired due to its violent content. Co-producer Don Boyd saw the banned version and was determined to bring it to the big screen. He contacted director Alan Clarke and writer Roy Minton and they agreed to remake if for the cinema.
Raw, violent and shocking, 'Scum' is a compelling story set in contempory Borstal. It's the story of a boy who turns to violence and brutality after his initial attempts of pacifism are quashed. Wishing to keep his head down and do his time quietly, Carlin finds himself continually confronted and goaded by both the other inmates and the prison officers. This leads him to confront his tormentors with devastating efficiency. But ultimately his rage against the system will prove futile.
The film could be regarded at a glance as an exercise in unadulterated bleak nihilism. An inmate is raped, others commit suicide, yet the film is a triumph due to the fantastic script which is filled with the comedy of the inmates banter. This saves the film from being abhorrently bleak. There is virtually no music and the film is also devoid of any color, bar grey. Yet the performances from the young actors are immensely convincing. They provide a much needed humor and humanity to this harsh film.
Many of the yong actors would become household names or familiar faces in british cinema and television. Ray Winstone is blistering in the role of Carlin. Phil Daniels features as Striper, he had the lead role in another seminal british film from 'Quadrophenia' (1979). Mick Ford who plays the subversive Archer went on to write screenplays for television. The director Alan Clarke worked mostly in television, producing hard hitting controversial dramas. With 'Scum' he pulled no punches in savaging the Borstal system which rewarded violence over good behavior. Ray Winstone stated on the DVD commentary, that he heard from former cons that they would rather spend three years in normal prison rather than one year in Borstal. After watching 'Scum' you'll believe them.
The film has no music score.
Ray Winstone did not hit Phil Daniels with the sock containing the snooker balls despite the scene being done in one take. A crew member laid on the floor and handed Winstone another sock containing ping pong balls. Nevertheless, Phil Daniels claimed it was very sore when Ray whacked him with the sock.
Originally, Carlin was a Glaswegian but was changed to a Cockney when Alan Clarke saw a then unknown Ray Winstone walk in a unique way.
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|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes|
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes|
There is no music in the film.
Soundtrack Available: Never On Any Format
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