One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest’ was the second film to win all five of the most acclaimed Oscar’s a movie can win, although it was almost never made. Very fortunately it was, because it without doubt is one of the best movies ever made, and has been one of my all-time favourites ever since I first saw it.

Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) manages to cheat his jail sentence on a workfarm by pretending to be mentally ill and gets sent to an institution instead. Here he meets a group of people, mostly more afraid of the real world than they are mentally ill. All are governed by the cruel and controlling Nurse Ratchet (Louise Fletcher). Randle is instantly taken aback by how these ordinary people really are ‘what do you think you are crazy or something? Well you’re not, you’re no crazier than the average * out walking the streets’. And he soon inspires them into helping themselves.

Jack Nicholson’s performance in this is pure perfection. Randle McMurphy helps the patients in the hospital, and tries desperately to help them see how sane most of them actually are. It is Nurse Ratchet (also an excellent performance) who is the villain in this. She is very subtle in what she does, but what she is doing is forcing her patients to stay in the hospital by terrifying them too much to want to leave; particularly to Billy (Brad Dourif), a young, innocent boy who, for a reason which is never explained, is very unstable and nervous about his mother (likely the reason he is in the insitution in the first place).

Based on a novel by Ken Kesey, that’s told initially through Cheaf’s perspective. This film was so nearly not made because of it’s theme of mental illness, which at the time was a topic which shouldn’t be talked about. Luckily though, the producers decided to go against this and made it anyway, and were paid off as it turned into a massive success and has gone down in history as one of the best films ever made.

With incredible lead actors, and an excellent supporting cast (a remarkable performance by Brad Dourif who was Oscar-nominated). It has a great, inspirational storyline and a deeply shocking ending. Definitely one of the greatest films ever created.

 

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