As the header picture might indicate to some, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is absolutely one of my favourite films of all time. Here’s why :
1. Jack Nicholson
One of the greats. Charming, unpredictable and owner of a silver tounge with that slow, New York drawl, Jack is one rear piece of talent. Nominated for an acting oscar in five different decades (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s) this guy has the potential, at 74, become the first to make that into 6 consecutive decades (unless Michael Caine beats him to it). In Cuckoo his role as the rebellious R.P. McMurphy, (that indeed earned him his first of three Best Actor Oscars) a criminal accused of statutory rape that’s sent to a mental institution for evaluation, for me at least, is his best performance ever (next to As Good As It Gets and Batman, two of his favourite roles).
2. The Book
A book that is not only brilliant narratively and through its characters, but a book that had a massive influence on the psychological practices of then present day mental instutions, ‘psych wards’, and supported theories of Michael Foucault’s reformation of the prison system, and misconducts of power discipline. The book is told from a supposed deaf-mute’s, Chief’s perspective who has great insight into the characters, and finds new sides to life through R.P’s antics. The relationship between the two is Of Mouse and Men-like and heartfel and as they find a surprising connection between eachother, they both grow into better people. As they plan an escape, things go south and brings us to possibly the best ending to a book ever.
3. Milos Forman
I always forget how much I usually enjoy Forman’s movies. He’s not very prolific, but all of his films are done with great consideration and unique style. He’s produced a few unmissable classics, like Amadeus and a few quirky hits like my favourite Jim Carrey film, Man on the Moon. Born in Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic] Forman always had two sides to his work, the comedic side shown in his earlier work in Czech, and the dramatic, lead character driven depictions of unsympathetic people. In Cuckoo he keeps a balance between the two, finds humour in little things, but tells the main story of the people in such detail and depth.
Chief Bromden : My pop was real big. He did like he pleased. That’s why everybody worked on him. The last time I seen my father, he was blind and diseased from drinking. And every time he put the bottle to his mouth, he don’t suck out of it, it sucks out of him until he shrunk so wrinkled and yellow even the dogs didn’t know him.
McMurphy : Killed him, huh?
Chief Bromden : I’m not saying they killed him. They just worked on him. The way they’re working on you.