Scum – Abschaum (1979)

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Scum – Abschaum: Directed by Alan Clarke. With Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Julian Firth, John Blundell. An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70’s.

“The grandaddy of u0026#39;incarcerationu0026#39; films – this is one of the best, oft copied but never bettered.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eI liked it because itu0026#39;s so damn British. The one liners are legion; you all know what they are and where, but among a stellar list u0026#39;Mecca, Archeru0026#39; rises just above and never fails to have me in fits. The way Goodyear looks at the Governor just after this great outburst is also revealing; as is the look of satisfaction on Archeru0026#39;s face when he finally succeeds in riling the u0026#39;religious maniacu0026#39;.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOf course, thereu0026#39;s a serious message in here; expedited best in the conversation between Archer and Mr Duke over u0026#39;coffeeu0026#39;. Analysing the situation, as Archer attempts to do, will simply not be tolerated and is interpreted as dissent by a man who embodies the u0026#39;systemu0026#39; and is intellectually and emotionally unequipped to deal with his own, and the Stateu0026#39;s ultimate failure to deliver.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eLike true class acts, this film works on several levels; itu0026#39;s a no nonsense drama bedecked with Taj Mahal one liners everyone loves, yet it also works on a deeper level; you cannot punitively u0026#39;correctu0026#39; all offenders with violence and cruelty. You are not corrected, you are merely broken, as Davis and Toyne are. If youu0026#39;re not broken, you run amok, but the point is youu0026#39;re not u0026#39;curedu0026#39;.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhen this film was on TV in 1983, just after Channel Four started broadcasting, they edited the notorious potting shed sequence to such an extent that the heinous act committed was virtually excised, thereby diluting the dramatic effect to virtually zero. Interestingly enough, they also edited out the bit where Mr Greaves ignores Davisu0026#39; second press of the bell. Why? Presumably because they feared the ire of the State at the highlighting of its inadequacies? I suppose they can be forgiven, Channel Four was new then after all, but itu0026#39;s quite revealing nonetheless.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIf Iu0026#39;m home alone, I quote this film as Iu0026#39;m wandering around the house. I donu0026#39;t quite know why. Itu0026#39;s all about the importance of individuality, standing up for yourself and not just u0026#39;acceptingu0026#39; things. Thatu0026#39;s probably the reason. Now, whereu0026#39;s your tool?”


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