ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST: COLLECTOR’S EDITION
MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Jack Nicholson as RANDLE PATRICK MCMURPHY
Louise Fletcher as NURSE MILDRED RATCHED
William Redfield as DALE HARDING
Brad Dourif as BILLY BIBBIT
Sydney Lassick as CHARLIE CHESWICK
Will Sampson as “CHIEF” BROMDEN
Danny DeVito as MARTINI
Christopher Lloyd as MAX TABER
Directed by: Milos Forman
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on Ken Kesey’s best-selling book about mental illness and the treatment of such patients in the mid-1960s, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a statutory rapist who feigns being insane in order to get out of work detail. However, after being transferred to a state hospital, a personality conflict with the head nurse leads to a possibly larger sentence. While McMurphy has a special way of connecting with the patients, his anti-authority attitude threatens the entire ward.
WHAT I LIKED
I discovered “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” on VHS many years back when I was in high school. It’s one of those films that sticks with you, no matter how long ago you’ve seen it. The movie is both timeless and indicative of its own era, a period of anti-establishment movements. Having seen it when I was a mere adolescent, I identified with the feeling of being trapped that McMurphy had, as well as the common perception that I was the only sane person in a given situation.
These feelings reemerged when I saw this film on Blu-ray, although my worldview has changed quite a bit over the years. Still, I loved the ambition of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as well as its ability to be self-contained. A majority of the film takes place in the ward, but it never grows tedious. In the second viewing, even though I knew the outcome, it was entertaining to watch things unfold.
The greatest feat of this film is being able to present a ward of people with serious problems, and to do so with a general amount of reality. They aren’t sweet and adorable patients. Some have deep-seeded issues. But director Milos Foreman manages to still make the characters appealing, using the convention of not discussing why they are in an institution.
The fantastic, award-winning performances of Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher are the keystone to this film. However, it cannot be praised without giving a nod to the supporting cast, many of which were unknowns but became huge in their own right. With Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Barryman and Vincent Schiavelli in early roles, this film managed to have an all-star cast even though it wasn’t aware of it at the time.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s not much to dislike about this film, which swept the Oscars after its release. There are no space battles and no robots blowing things up. It’s not that kind of movie. Rather, it’s a film about the human condition, and I suppose there are those who won’t like this sort of thing. But for the rest of you, it’s a great film, even 35 years after it was made.
The Collector’s Edition box set is a hefty release, featuring far more than what’s on the disc itself. The Blu-ray itself includes a 90-minute documentary retrospective of the film called “Completely Cuckoo.” It begins with a look at the story from Kesey’s point of view, then takes the viewer through the arduous and twisted process of its journey to the screen.
There’s an additional documentary about the state of mental illness treatment in America, featuring new interviews with Michael Douglas and Dean Brooks, who was in charge of the Oregon hospital in which the film was made. Additional features on the Blu-ray include the theatrical trailer, deleted scenes and a commentary with director Milos Forman and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz.
In addition to the Blu-ray, the box set includes a 52-page commemorative hard-bound book, a reproduction of the original press book, four miniature reproductions of the original posters, cast and character photo cards and a deck of playing cards featuring the cast from the film. And you can only guess who is the Queen of Spades in the deck.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who wants to see a thoroughly dramatic and emotional film.