One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Milos Forman's acclaimed adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel. After being imprisoned for statutory rape, an unrepentant Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is transferred to a state mental hospital where he must serve out the remainder of his sentence. Here he sets about leading his fellow inmates in a revolt against the cold and inflexible Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and the hospital's systematic oppression of its patients. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Nicholson) and Best Actress (Fletcher).
One of the key movies of the 1970s, when exciting, groundbreaking, personal films were still being made in Hollywood, Milos Forman's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest emphasised the humanistic story at the heart of Ken Kesey's more hallucinogenic novel. Jack Nicholson was born to play the part of Randle Patrick McMurphy, the rebellious inmate of a psychiatric hospital who fights back against the authorities' cold attitudes of institutional superiority, as personified by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). It's the classic antiestablishment tale of one man asserting his individuality in the face of a repressive, conformist system--and it works on every level. Forman populates his film with memorably eccentric faces, and gets such freshly detailed and spontaneous work from his ensemble that the picture sometimes feels like a documentary. Unlike a lot of films pitched at the "youth culture" of the 1970s, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest really hasn't dated a bit, because the qualities of human nature that Forman captures--playfulness, courage, inspiration, pride, stubbornness--are universal and timeless. The film swept the Academy Awards for 1976, winning in all the major categories (picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay) for the first time since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night in 1931. --Jim Emerson
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After my initial hesitation, I was glued to the screen by the storyline, the characters, the highs and lows and the unlikely human relationships that developed.
A brilliant film, sometimes very funny, sometimes extremely sad but most of all poignant and I'm still thinking about it 4 hours later. I certainly will be watching it again and recommending it to others have come late to seeing it.
It reminded me of the book The Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon, which goes through all the damaging effects of authoritarianism on morale and effectiveness in the army. Nicholson embodies all the important values in human groups, a sense of fun, a sympathy for one another's problems, a need for relaxation and games, sex and spontanaiety. The film shows what happens when these values come into contact with complacent, insensitive authority. You realise the patients featured in the film aren't mad at all, it's their way of dealing with the system they find themselves in.
Nicholson's peformance is pure genius, so winning, funny and charming. It's a very special film.