The cinema of Alan Clarke shines an unflinching light on the deteriorating UK society he saw crumbling around him in the 1970s and '80s. This collection gathers four of his made-for-TV films, alongside a fascinating documentary on Clarke. SCUM is the earliest work presented here, and comes in two versions: the original 1977 production, and a theatrical reworking from 1979. Both star Ray Winstone (SEXY BEAST) as a hapless victim of England's juvenile prison system, offering a damning indictment of a corrupt and brutal regime that caused incredible damage to Britain's troubled youth. MADE IN BRITAIN (1982) features Tim Roth in a lead role for the first time, portraying an unconventional skinhead named Trevor. Intelligent, yet excessively violent, Trevor bucks the cinematic stereotypes often attached to such figures, with Clarke lending a sympathetic slant to a character who boils over with rage. Six years later, THE FIRM saw the ever in-tune Clarke turning his attentions to another disease gnawing away at the bones of society: soccer violence. A huge fan of the sport, Clarke sought to distance the game from the acts of violence that tarnished its name. Gary Oldman stars as Bex, the leader of a gang of brutal hooligans. Embodying traits familiar to many of Clarke's central characters, Oldman perfectly juxtaposes Bex's above-average intellect with extreme, mindless violence. ELEPHANT (1989) rounds out this set of films, offering a unique drama based on the troubles that beset Belfast in the late 1980s. A movie with barely any dialogue or narrative, Clarke simply let his wandering camera follow numerous murderers as they encounter and shoot their victims; the title inspired the 2003 Gus Van Sant film of the same name, and is an austere final entry into Clarke's cinematic canon, made just one year before his death.
"[Filmed] with an utterly unflinching eye..." 07/01/2004 p.114
"[G]roundbreaking....An essential primer on the work of a great TV director who died in 1990 a he was poised to become a world-class English filmmaker." 09/30/2004 p.79
Sight and Sound
"[A] monumental introduction to a singular and uncompromising talent..." 11/01/2004 p.75