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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is adapted from a novel of the same name written by Ken Kesey. The movie carries with it symbolism through color, sounds, and images and the casting could not have been more proper. Jack Nicholson is cast in the lead role as Randle Patrick McMurphy, a ne'er-do-well who goes into a mental institution to finish off his jail sentence. He figures it will be more slack than the work farm. His nemesis is Nurse Ratched, cast and played extraordinarily by Louise Fletcher. The movie does well in incorporating feelings and colors that surround the viewer with the mental institution's atmosphere. And the sounds and images put forth by director Milos Forman add to that ambiance. One of the film's biggest successes lies in the cinematography (or lack thereof). Virtually all the scenes, even when the inmates go outside, are bleak and dreary. The lighting in the institution is the fluorescent, white-out type of lighting. Every slippery hospital surface is revealed and the viewer can almost smell the hospital cleaning fluids emanating from the screen. The hospital has no bright happy colors, either. It is filmed in the dim blues and greys of the ward that resemble the patients' despair. The patients are dressed in dim grey as well and the nurse, as always, wears stark white. The nurse's appearance also holds symbolism in it. Her uniform is always perfectly pressed. And her hat is always on straight. She represents order and authority, and her uniform is one symbolic affect of that order. It totally contrasts the patient's mien - always disheveled, wearing demeaning hospital robes. The director uses wonderfully disenchanting sounds to relate to the audience the pain and helplessness of the patients. One patient is constantly remarking how tired he is and other characters are constantly stuttering and "acting weird." Random yells echo throughout the halls. The echo allows for the hospital's feeling of emptiness and loneliness and gives it a cavernous feel. Its halls are never ending and escape from this institution is futile. The echoes bounce off every surface, trapping each patient in their own madness. The use of hospital noises and colors add to the realistic scenery of the film. It is masterfully done, and each audience member is forced to go through the pain and despair of the patients. The subject matter has always been one I like. The ragamuffin character comes in and saves all the horribly despondent people from pure emotional distress. As if those patients didn't have it bad enough, they are constantly being controlled by the Big Nurse. She represents order, authority - the Establishment. And these poor souls are putting their lives in her hands, only for her to take advantage of them. Milos Forman puts this story in perfect visual form, not using too many film techniques to take away from the story at hand. Colors, images, and sounds carried from the novel to the screen are constant and well-done. The feeling one gets from the movie is delicously horrible, as most asylums surely are. A phenomenal story by Kesey and direction by Forman, and an uncanny portrayal of McMurphy by Nicholson, allow the story to live on in visual form.
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106 of 121 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 12, 2002
Format: DVD
Milos Forman has always had a knack for assembling great ensemble casts. This is particularly true in his most critically acclaimed releases (Taking Off, Amadeus and this film). It would be difficult indeed to come up with actors and actresses who were better suited to fill the roles in OFOTCN. This is true in terms of both the stars, Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, and the secondary characters. Who could have been a better Harding than William Redfield? A better Billy Bibbit than Brad Dourif? A better Cheswick than Sydney Lassick? And most especially, a better Chief Bromden than Will Sampson?
I rank this movie as the best of the best of what I consider to be American Cinema's golden decade, the 70s. It certainly won the widest acclaim, with its sweep of the major Oscars for 1975 (Nicholson also won best actor from the New York Film Critics voters that year).
Not to be overlooked is the fantastic job performed by the film's adaptors, Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben, who also won Oscars for their screenplay. True, they did have a fairly decent stage version (by Dale Wasserman) to work with. I remember seeing an excellent production of the play, with a terrific cast, in San Francisco circa 1972. Just as an aside, I read in the Norton Critical edition of the novel, a review of a NY production of the play by Walter Kerr that was an absolute pan. Suffice it to say that the movie is much different than either the novel or the play. Those familiar with Kesey's great novel understand how difficult a transfer from page to screen would be; about a third of the story is Bromden's delusional interior monologue. The final script, quite rightly, focuses almost exclusively on Randal P McMurphy's struggle with Nurse Ratched for the hearts and minds of the inmates.
This is truly a gut and soul-wrenching movie, with many moments of high maniacal comedy interspersed. Though many of his other films are top-notch, this is Forman's masterpiece. If you haven't read the book, read it. It you don't own this movie, buy it. There are few works in the history of American literature and film that are superior.
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87 of 101 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 9, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
It has taken me nearly 30 years to get round to watching this film, and I genuinely think I appreciate it more for being that much older. It has had accolades for everything -- plot, direction, filming, casting, acting. It deserves them all. It is nothing short of compulsive. The bad guy who has not lost his soul (much less his spirit) is pitted against the embodiment of sanctimonious righteousness who never had a soul to lose.
I wonder whether Nicholson has even yet had full recognition for the truly great actor he is (how many people have even seen The King of Marvin Gardens, for instance?) His screen presence is enormous, magnetic and menacing. He combines outsize testosteronic individuality with the ability to get inside a character, and an electric sense of threat with a real power to tug at the heart-strings. Bad he may be, but unsympathetic never. He is a very big little guy, but he is still the little guy against the system. It must be impossible, surely, to upstage that?
Incredibly, no. The ultimate star in a film that has no shortage of up-and-coming luminaries as well as Nicholson (D de Vito for one) is Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched. I am never going to forget that mask-like expressionless face and that ever-rational, implacable, ever-modulated voice mouthing those soulless, uncomprehending, the-system-is-right banalities. Above all, I am never going to forget that hair. Among the many touches of genius in this production, that hairstyle is the ultimate. I simply could not take my eyes off it. The name is effective too, and I shall continue to believe until someone proves me wrong that it was an inspired borrowing from Jane Eyre -- the dreadful and sadistic Miss Skatcherd brought up to date and given a 20th-century twist.
This film is never going to become dated as long as these polarities continue to repel each other. I saw it at all only because my son showed it to me. It is relevant to my generation, it is relevant to his, and I can't foresee when it is not going to be relevant.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This movie is as relevant now as it was when it first hit movie theaters in the 70's. Hilarious, somewhat dark and thought provoking. Great performances all around, anyone I recommend this film to loves it. You will remember most of these characters, right down to Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito in supporting roles. In my opinion, one of the most uproariously funny moments in movie history occurs when Chezaroo flips out about Nurse Ratched's stingy cigarette policy.

The Blu ray transfer of this movie is excellent. It is not the very best of the best, but for a film that came out in the mid-seventies it has superb PQ on Blu ray.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This is one of my favorite Jack Nicholson movies. The collector's edition has some nice goodies: a 52 page hard-bound book, reproduction of the original press book, a 52 card deck, 4 mini-reproduction of the original worldwide theatrical posters and 6 cast/character photos. A great package for a great movie that received 5 Academy Awards.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 29, 2001
Format: DVD
5 stars for the film, 1 star for the DVD:
There are a lot of reviews that discuss the movie itself, so I will keep this one short and talk about the DVD.
The DVD is a bit of a disappointment. The film itself is very dirty; it looks like the transfer was done from a copy of the film that's been shown a few hundred times in a theater. It's hard to believe that the master itself has deriorated this much.
There are no interesting extras on this DVD. No deleted scenes, no commentaries, no behind the scenes footage. Just some text screens talking about awards the film received, etc.
The are no audio options. You're just stuck with standard sterio. And the menu is bland and static. Basically, you are getting the movie, as you would have experienced it in a theater nearly three decades ago, and nothing else.
I love this film however, especially the ending, so I still recommend buying it if you are a Jack Nicholson fan. Just don't expect the DVD to actually take advantage of the medium.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2004
Format: DVD
We watched this movie for our Social Studies class in 7th grade. This movie was so sad and moving. I definitly recomend it. It's very dramatic, it really made me cry at the end and Nurse Ratchett is so well acted and such an evil character.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2006
Format: DVD
This movie is so superbly done, it is difficult to write down mere words to describe it. A patient,(Nicholson)enters a mental hospital (he's really not mentally ill); he wants to get out of work detail. Nicholson, being a bit of a loser and a con-artist, becomes a gift on the mental ward. One could say, he is the best therapist most of the patients have ever had--organizing basketball games, fishing expeditions,getting card games going, and even bringing women into the hospital!

Enter in----Nurse Ratchett (Louise Fletcher). Oh My! And she plays her to perfection---soft spoken as an angel, a sweet, sugary grin, and completely devoted to the nursing proffesion.....but inside that shell, Nurse Ratchett has no soul or empathy or feeling. She knows every patients' weakness and she uses that power to keep each one physically and emotionally bound around her clawed, devilish fingers.

Another crucial character, Chief, symbolizes freedom and independence. In the midst of so much oppression and dysfunction on the ward, Chief was created as a symbol of hope.

"One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest" is unbelievably layered, lovely, lushious, and lacking in nothing. It is pshycologically ahead of it's time---suggesting that dwelling on the problems of the past is not constructive, but living in the present moment is.

They just don't make films like this one anymore--films that make us think deeply---then go to bed hungry for more of everything all over again!

No amount of stars can measure the depth and substance of this classic!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2003
Format: DVD
There are some great cinema moments in this legendary film set in a Mental "Health" insitution in a time when the frequent use of invasive surgery and electroshock therapy was used to "cure"the "abnormal", for which read irritable, rebellious, eccentric, even just different. One such moment occurs when inmates McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and The Chief (Will Sampson) sit beside each other waiting their turn for some electroshock therapy after they had "misbehaved" . McMurphy hands The Chief a piece of gum and The Chief responds by taking the gum and murmuring "Thank you". These two words shock Murphy and are a revelation to him. It was a view held by staff and inmates alike that The Chief was mute. McMurphy, considering himself smarter than just about everybody, has also been fooled. The revelation to McMurphy is that The Chief has "beaten" the system. It is a moment of pure joy, both for McMurphy and the viewer. In another scene, extravert McMurphy(at about five feet six inchesin height) suggests to the introvert Chief (at about six feet six in height) that they break out of the institution and The Chief replies " I'm not as big as you". A defining movie and a wonderful and moving experience. This double edition has excellent supportive material.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is not your ordinary movie. But it is one of the finest films ever made. Jack Nicholson stars as R.P. Macmurphy, a former prisoner, has been sent to a mental hospital for evaluation. He has been charged with brutality and rape, making the doctors believe there may be signs of mental illness. What ensues is an incredible movie about one man's struggle to survive in a mental hospital and the effect he has upon the other patients. Jack Nicholson won his first lead actor Oscar for his performance in Cuckoo's nest. He is simply unbelievable. He was very due for an oscar. This was his 4th nomination. Fellow nominee Walter Matthau, upon hearing Nicholson's name announced, was said to have leaned over to his wife and said "It's about time." Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for best actress in her unforgettable turn as Nurse Ratched, the stern facilitator of the mental ward. There are many patients and people who would soon become big stars, such as Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd, Louis Gossett Jr., and an amazing performance by Sydney Lassick. The real deal is Milos Forman, the winner for best director, and the man behind such films as Amadeus(His 2nd Oscar for Direction), The People V. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon. He even used real mental ward patients to add realism to the film. This film was produced by a young Michael Douglas, earning him his first Oscar. Gripping, funny, terrifying, and ultimately fulfilling, Cuckoo's nest is one of the best movies ever made.
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