The film focuses on juvenile punishment and detention in the U.K. which upon release in 1979 for males were the controversial Borstal detention centres.
The subject matter in the film and the widespread public viewing of it probably went someway to a change in Government policy in the area.
Borstals were scrapped.
The film shows gritty and at times extremely disturbing scenes including physical violence, suicide and male rape.
In particular a young Ray Winstone stars as 'daddy' prisoner Carlin.
The film is notable for fleeting performances from actors some of whom became mainstays of British television drama in the 1980s.
The films broached politically incorrect subjects such as racism and indeed breaches the limits of film classification for adult audiences.
Clarke delivers another memorable (controversial) film.
Maybe once a time, "Scum" might have seemed disturbing with its acute depictions of violence but time has softened its impact which has as much to do with recent basic cable programming as the fact that somehow Ray Winstone is much more intimidating in middle age than as a baby faced young man. I speak for everyone when I say that Archer is my favorite character but sometimes too much attention is paid to him, especially in an extended conversation that almost brings the movie to a halt. In any case, race is the underlying theme here in an institution where the adults seem much more interested in arcane rules than in preventing harm from two prisoners who use violence towards two radically different agendas.