One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher
directed by Milos Forman
screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman based on a novel by Ken Kesey
I have to be honest, this is one of the movies that I would’ve really liked to have read the book, because I can see it being much better novelized with the opportunity to get more detailed understandings of the individual characters. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the story of struggles and triumphs in a mental asylum under the leadership of R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) as he rebels against the dictatorial Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Nicholson and Fletcher soar as dynamic nemeses, but are signifcantly complemented by a fantastic ensemble which notably features young Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, and Josip Elic among others, who each deliver riveting performances as mentally ill patients individually struggling with their specific problems. The issue with this film is that it builds up characters who are fascinating, and I found myself wanting to know more about. It was almost as though they tried to incorporate so many subplots that they could not fully focus on all them (which I can imagine was much more thorough in the novel). Still, the actors utilized the screenplay to invent some amazing dialogue fueled scenes drenched in passion and hope, as well as pain and confusion. The story is a well composed analysis of archaic mental institutions, an epic social tragedy highlighting a failing system. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has a lot to teach us in the ways of human interaction, particularly acceptance and respect for those who are struggle with mental illness, a field of prejudice that is very stigmatized. Conclusively, it is a film of impressive caliber, deeply driven by wonderful performances and a great plot, and worth recognition as an inspirational classic.
Final Score: 3.8 out of 5