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I went into this film with the knowledge that it had been the second
film in history to win the 'top five' Oscars (for Best Picture, Best
actor, Best actress, Best director and best screenplay) and has been
praised as "one of Jack Nicholson's finest roles" and "one of the
classics of the 70's". Naturally, after hearing all this, I had high
expectations for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. But nonetheless, I
was surprised at how easily the film surpassed my expectations and
easily led me to understand how it merited all that praise.
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, the story follows Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), who, in an attempt to get out of spending more time in prison, pleads insanity for his crime, and is therefore sentenced to time in a mental institution. This was McMurphy's intention, as he believes the conditions in a "crazy house" will be significantly easier to contend with than another harsh stay in prison. However, he quickly finds out that surviving the institution with it's desolate patients (including Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Vincent Schiavelli and an absolutely brilliant Brad Dourif as the stuttering Billy Bibbit) and the monstrously repressive Nurse Ratchet (Louise Fletcher, in a career defining role) is considerably harder than he imagined. McMurphy plays pranks, horseplay, and is generally defiant to the rules of the institution in an attempt to raise spirits. His constant optimism and reckless defiance to the out of date rules in the institution can be very uplifting, and often quite funny as well, but much of the movie can be very depressing - the generally decrepit state of the institution is a consistently (and intentionally) bleak background to a superb story with a truly bittersweet ending.
Jack Nicholson is at his best here, head and shoulders above other excellent performances such as in 'Chinatown' or 'As Good as it Gets'. McMurphy is an apparently unquenchable optimist, refusing to succumb to the defeated spirit of all the other patients. His livewire antics, inspiring the patients are generally uplifting, and when his indomitable spirit is finally broken, we really feel for him and his fellow patients. Nicholson conveys the essence of McMurphy to perfection, demonstrating his excellent understanding and interpretation of the character. When McMurphy announces that he is going to lift a huge stone fountain and hurl it through the window to escape, the other patients are so caught up in his intoxicating spirit of freedom that they honestly believe he can do it, despite the fact it would be impossible for a man much stronger than him. When McMurphy finally discovers that despite his best efforts, he cannot lift the fountain, he is so openly crushed that we can't help but feel for him. Beneath the frequent profanities and livewire antics, there are real human emotions, which come across as truly touching.
What can be said about One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest which hasn't already been said? It has an excellent storyline, top notch acting, painfully bleak visuals, perfectly setting the tone for the movie, and alternates between being truly uplifting to devastatingly depressing. It features perhaps the most memorable film ending ever, next to a man on his horse riding off into the sunset, and leaves the viewer beaten down by the conflicting emotions, unaware what to think of the picture next to reveling in it's glorious entirety. It's hard to produce a final outcome any better than this.
Jack Nicholson is a great actor. No, not a great actor, a spectacular actor. This is a film from fairly early in his career, as well as it is for several other actors in this film, who later have had long, great careers too, including Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Brad Dourif. The film has some unforgettable moments... who could forget Louise Fletcher's icy stare, Jack Nicholson's smart-aleck remarks or Will Sampson's impressive, almost entirely silent performance? The film portrays the horrible truth about how patients were treated in mental institutions back then, and tells the story of someone who desperately wanted to break out, to rebel, to change things, for himself and for the others. I was compelled by this film, from the very first frame. I never took my eyes off it, and I will definitely be thinking about this film for a while. I thought it was great the way one of the very first frames depicted the institution as something far more similar to a prison than a hospital. Milos Forman did a great job of making that contrast very powerful to the viewer. The film is very moving and a truly beautiful cinematic experience. Every single actor gives a stellar performance, every single character is perfectly written, every single line, every single frame is absolutely perfect. I wouldn't change a thing in this film. It has a great pace, you never lose interest, but it never seems to be rushing to get through it, either. It's simply perfect. I have not read the original book, but if I ever come across it, I might check it out. I have only seen this film once, but I will definitely watch it many times in years to come. I recommend this amazing piece of great cinema to anyone who has at least a slight interest in the drama genre, or any fan of any of the actors, as they are all in their absolute prime in this film. 10/10
The opening shot of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST is a bleak glance at an
Oregon morning. Stirring, haunting music plays gracefully on the soundtrack
and a car approaches. Inside the car is one of film history's most
remarkable characters. "Randle McMurphy" is about to bring hope, humor,
and a glimmer of reality to some disturbed people in a mental hospital.
Jack Nicholson as "McMurphy", is something of a paradox. Is this guy crazy
or is he really the lazy, conniving criminal most believe him to be? That
is the magical mystery and start to a journey into mental illness and the
effect this man will have on some truly messed up men.
Milos Forman directs this all-time classic, which swept the Oscars deservedly, and holds up so well 25 years later. It is a simplistic film about small people living in their own small worlds. Manic moments are mixed with poignant acting all leading to an astounding climax. Not before or since CUCKOO'S NEST has a collection of different characters had such an impact on me. You could write a book report about each of the patients in the ward. The two most important people here are, of course, Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher.
Nicholson has his greatest moments in this picture. One brilliant scene has him doing an imaginary play-by-play commentary of the 1963 World Series to the group, who are not allowed to watch the game on TV. It is a poetic sequence and Nicholson goes crazy with his delivery, describing baseball with colorful anecdotes and profanity. "McMurphy" immediately makes an impression on the crazies and shows them how they don't have to stick to the "normal routine". He knows their names right away, he sprays them with water, he makes impossible bets with them, he introduces them to fishing, and he even gets a suffering young kid (played well by Brad Dourif) a "date".
Louise Fletcher plays one of the more reprehensible human beings in film as "Nurse Mildred Ratched". She is a hardened woman, one who makes the daily meetings with the group a contest to see who will win. Her stubbornness and lack of compassion for the poor guys is rather one dimensional. That's perfect because that is exactly who she is. Her strong will to keep things monotonous leads to a final showdown with the free spirited "McMurphy" in what is easily one of the most shocking and disturbing climaxes in recent memory.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST does not try to make a statement about mental illness or how the unstable should be treated. Rather, it is a very simple portrait of the long days and hilarious scenarios that can come about when a mixed bag of suffering people are thrown together. Mental illness is nothing to laugh about, but the fact that Nicholson is not really crazy (at least in my opinion) allows us to be amused. He seems to love his compadres in the hospital. He is mislead, however, into thinking he can do as he pleases.
There is no denying the power of CUCKOO'S NEST. The two main powerhouse performances are golden, the cinematography is morbid and gritty like it should be, the "Chief" is great as Nicholson's right hand, ah, protagonist, and you care a lot about what will happen as the film moves on. The famous, final shot ironically happens to be an exit of a major character into that bleak, Oregon morning.
NOTE: I have never read the book and I find it hard to believe author Ken Kesey has never watched the filmed version. Comparing a book to a movie is impossible. They are 2 distinctly different artistic methods of story-telling.
Based on the amazing novel by Ken Kesey, Randall Patrick McMurphy is an
antisocial and dangerous man no different than a petty criminal, placed
in a mental ward to have his behavior studied. He makes friends with
lunatics and starts his own circle of admiration within the hospital,
much to the dismay of Nurse Ratched, the central authority figure in
the story and one of the greatest movie villains ever.
The movie exists to show not only how corrupt and poorly-constructed society's approach to the "mentally unstable" is, but it creates characters that we have all met in life and shows how the McMurphy-like figure that we all wish we had fights for freedom of choice and basic human rights. In addition to the movie's great spirit, the acting is fantastic. Jack Nicholson is at his best and Danny DeVito can be seen in his very first acting role ( which he absolutely triumphs in ). And of course, there's the unforgettable Chief Bromden. The directing by Milos Forman is very well-done, as the camera-work is excellent and follows the pace of the movie perfectly in how it is used. What really impressed me was the editing, especially as far as the use of audio goes: some parts just made me go "...wow."
My only complaint is that I believe the movie could've been slightly more effective if it were based more closely on the novel at certain points, but the modified point of view of the film does make a great point; anyone who has ever hated their job, been accused of something, had some person so self-righteous and convinced of their own authority and dependency on order get in your way, or attended the American public school system at any point in their life should be able to identify with this movie.
What a movie, what an excellent movie!!! That is what first went
through my mind after seeing this masterpiece. I've seen many movies,
but there aren't much movies which had such an impact on me. Nowadays
almost all filmmakers believe they can only make a good movie by adding
loads of special effects and lots of huge explosions ... This movie is
so good, so convincing without them. The actors played their roles in
such a convincing way that you would think these weren't actors at all,
but real psychiatric patients.
This movie may be 30 years old, but it hasn't lost any of its relevancy. OK, we don't put our mentally ill people in that kind of prisons anymore, the bars in front of the windows have gone and now we call it hospitals in stead of nut houses. But the treatment hasn't changed all that much. I once worked in such a hospital as a volunteer and still saw things like forced feeding, giving people so much medication until they no longer know who or where they are,...
When the movie first came out, some people were shocked because when you watch the movie, you can't help it feeling more attached to the patients than to the doctors and nurses. This movie shows that cinema can make a difference. It can help to open people's eyes. If there is a movie that should be seen by everyone, this sure is the one. I give it a well deserved 10/10.
It's tough to really judge this movie. Is it Milos Forman's greatest directorial masterpiece or Jack Nicholson's best performance. Tough to say, but the marriage between both director and actor are quite phenomenal. From the first time we see Jack Nicholson to the sad, yet uplifting ending, one cannot escape the sheer power of the film. When a film is parodied as many times as this one has been, typically, greatness can be associated. Well, greatness was achieved, and let's hope this one never falls through the cracks.
Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a landmark (one of
the few I might add) in cinema. Pretty much everything in this film is
at or close to perfection. And rightfully so, it became only the 2nd (1
in 3 films in history along with It Happened One Night and Silence of
the Lambs) film to win the top five Oscars- Best Picture, Actor (Jack
Nicholson), Actress (Louise Fletcher), Director (Forman), and
Screenplay (Bo Goldman).
The story (based on Ken Kessey's astounding, though not too similar, novel) focuses on a rowdy misfit named Randle Patrick McMurphy (Nicholson) who is put in a mental hospital with other people (some voluntarily in) who are not all there. Some of these guys include Danny DeVito (in his first role), Christopher Lloyd, Brad Dourif (in his Oscar nominated role) and the never forgettable Will Sampson who played the Chief. The film, It's actors and scenes will always be terrific achievements in cinema and is one of my favorites.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Nicholson had been nominated four times, he had lost four times. Each time he probably should have won, but he never did. Just when you thought there was no justice in the world, Jack finally came through with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". The film is exceptional in every sense imaginable. Nicholson stars as a prisoner who is sent to an insane asylum. While there, Nicholson creates an atmosphere which gives his fellow inmates a sense of self-worth and a glimmer of happiness. Throughout, it is never made clear whether Nicholson is truly insane or just acting crazy to get out of manual labor at the regular prison. Whatever the case, Nicholson is creating a place that head-nurse Louise Fletcher (Oscar-winning) is finding unsuitable for the other patients. She is quietly evil and amazingly cruel to those within the asylum. Nicholson and Fletcher are getting ready for a head-on-collision that will prove to be the decisive factor at the end of the movie. Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif (Oscar-nominated) are all great in supporting turns as Nicholson's fellow inmates. An excellent film. 5 stars out of 5.
First thing's first, while I watched this movie, I found myself stunned.
This movie so entertained the viewer, as it did fascinate, and inform. A
chilling, disturbing, and revealing look into the mental institutions as
seen through the eyes of a con. Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad
Dourif, Danny DeVito, and Christopher Lloyd, round out the excellent, and
very well casted cast.
Jack Nicholson brilliantly plays Randall Patrick McMurphy, an ex-con, who fakes being mentally insane, to enter the institution. As he goes to the hospital, he doesn't realize, that the people, and the atmosphere there is so out there. The patients are really psycho, and creepy. Randall, must try and survive these days, before he has to go to Jail. He has to entertain himself while at the same time, find good in this place of craziness.
Lousie Fletcher plays Nurse Ratched, a soft; but strong willed nurse, who will not take anything from anyone, or put up with misbehavior. She watches Randall, and notices something different about him, he's not as psycho as the others, but he is a little out there. Her job is tough indeed, having to put up with all these men, who don't listen, some go crazy and throw fits, and others just sit there and don't do anything.
Randall meets many new friends in this place, Brad Dourif who plays Billy Bibbit, is a mentally unstable, but voluntarily institutionalized person. Danny DeVito plays Martini, a slow but charming and sweet man, who means know harm in what he does or say. Christopher Lloyd plays Taber, a man, who also voluntarily institutionalized himself. He also meets Chief, a big 'dumb, and deaf' Indian, who happens to like to play basketball. Randall must try and survive these days with his new friends, and the hospital, as well as an everlasting war as to which they can watch the world series on TV. Put up with Nurse Ratched, and the other patients, doctors, vistors, and nurses. Ultimately leading up to a dramatic finale, that makes you want to stand up and cheer.
I think what was best about this film was the realism. I had no problem believing that this was happening. Almost like a documentary, it was striking and powerful, making the viewer not want to stop watching till the end. Some of the sequences are memorable as the basketball game, and the fishing trip. Jack Nicholson, who as always plays his character absolutely excellent, and makes the viewer want to hand him an Oscar himself.
The supporting cast, Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif also give terrific performances. Danny, Christopher, and Brad's careers all were made with this superb movie. It's all sentimental, funny, dramatic, intense, chilling, disturbing, diverting, and tragic. The finale leaves the viewer stunned and sitting there thinking about what he just saw. See this film, and believe it. I think you will find, its one of the BEST ever.
The second film to win all five major Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Fletcher), Director, and Screenplay. And it deserved all of them.
Rated R for language, violence, sexual content, and brief nudity.
Czech director Milos Forman seems to be obsessed with rebellious
characters that don't like to go with the flow. Just think about Larry
Flynt in "The People vs. Larry Flynt" or Andy Kaufman in "Man on the
Moon", in the two most recent movies of Forman. The central character
in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" played by Jack Nicholson is also
one of those characters, that wants to break the routine and even
starts a revolt against the staff and nurse Ratchett in particular, in
a mental institution.
The movie is perhaps more comedy and entertainment than heavy drama. Still that doesn't mean that the movie isn't filled with some powerful emotional sequences. The tension between the patients and the staff gets more and more notable and grows throughout the movie, which eventually leads to a 'wonderful' ending which I'm not going to spoil.
Yes, Jack Nicholson is truly splendid in his role and it seemed like he was improvising all his lines and actions during the entire movie. It was a really Oscar worthy performances, which he also received. Another Oscar winner for her performance was Louise Fletcher, which in my opinion is a bit too much credit. She plays her role well but nothing more than that. She did not deeply impressed me or anything. This movie also marks the debut for some today well known actors such as Danny DeVito (he looked so young and different!), Christopher Lloyd and Brad Dourif, who also received an Oscar nomination.
Really one of those movies that you must have seen at least once in your life.
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