Released: 19th November 1975
Directed by: Miloš Forman
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield
Director Milos Forman may be unknown to many people; his name does not carry the significance of say Spielberg, Scorsese or Cameron. However whenOne Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was released in 1975 it took the movie industry by storm. Its success led to an almost clean sweep at the Oscars, winning the major 5 (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay) and is still hailed as one of the best films of all time.
So why is this? What separates this from any other film? The story revolves around Jack Nicholson’s character RP McMurphy and his decision to go to a mental institute rather than go back to prison. Believing it to be a better choice, he pleads insanity at his trial and is sent to the confines of Nurse Ratched’s (Louise Fletcher) hospital. Whilst there, he becomes a thorn in her side, rebelling against the rules and causing his fellow patients to follow his lead. The patients including early roles for future Hollywood stars such as Christopher Lloyd (‘Doc’ from Back To The Future) and Danny De Vito.
The beauty of this film is the stark contrast between the bleak depressive backdrop of the institution against the cheery and mischievous nature of McMurphy. The light hearted nature of his actions leads you to forget about the unpleasant goings-on at the hospital.
The stunning performances of Nicholson and Fletcher, both honoured with Oscars for their work, are the turning point for me. Without such beautiful chemistry between the two I feared the outcome may have been quite different.
A cliché often used when reviewing movies is that ‘it will send the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster’. I will refrain from saying that, however the stark contrast of feelings you will go through really are breathtaking to behold. They seem to set an unbelievably variable tone throughout the movie that has rarely been recreated.
Whilst not hoping to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it, the ending is perhaps the most unexpected if not one of the most beautiful sequences of any movie. It culminates in a strangely fitting, yet somewhat confused, finale.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is hard hitting but entirely worth putting yourself through the emotions of watching a beautifully crafted film. It’s as brilliant as I am sane, which is a lot according to the voices in my head…
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