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19 Aug 2010

Classic Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

This 1975 film directed by Milos Forman is apparently based on the book of the same name by Ken Kesey. I'm going to be honest, I have never read the book, and after reading some other reviews on this film, apparently this was the films downfall. Apparently, it wasn't as good as its paperback counterpart, but I can't compare.

The film revolves around R. P. McMurphy, a convict sent to an insane asylum. Once he arrives there, he finds it dull, boring and monotonous and thus sets out to galvanise the inmates. In truth, this is the largest problem with the film, and even this is minute. Rather than providing a story with constant turns and twists, Forman (or rather Kesey) opts to concentrate mainly on character development throughout. However, this lack of story is very small, and you will find yourself not caring that much about it anyway.

However, the character development is done superbly, and is by far the greatest strength of the film. During the first 30 minutes of the film, you will feel no emotional attachment to any of the characters. Forman portrays them in such a way as to make you blame them for all the wrong in the institute. But around half way through, this viewpoint changes, with the blame then shifting onto the head nurse, Mrs. Ratched (expertly played by Louise Fletcher). As a result, the initial humour felt towards the patients changes to empathy and sympathy, leading to an in depth character portrayal for all characters, all of whom you will care about in the end.

The characters also runs the gammet of stereotypes, including the silent Indian, the bully and the courageous leader. But this never holds the movie back. Instead, it exceeds all expectations in that each character feels different, each with their own unique personality, rather than all melting into one insane person.

The chemistry on show for all the cast is also a shining star for this film. In particular, McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and Chief (Will Sampson). These two always draw your attention and have amazing screen presence. These two also provide the best and most memorable scenes in the film, including when McMurphy tries to teach the silent Chief basketball, and then watching him smile for the first time.

The music score is also impeccable, using just two styles: 1950s-style or non at all. If anything, this also ramps up how easy it is to love the characters, and how easy it is to hate Mrs. Ratched. Yet another plus for the film.

Overall, this film is the best I have seen in a long while. The director makes your emotions run wild, and you will genuinely care about the ending, even if it does leave you speechless. A true masterpiece, if only the storyline was to progress a bit further in the mid-portion of the film, rather than seem to blossom in the last 20 minutes.

Total Score: 9 out of 10

1 comment:

  1. One of the greatest American films of all-time. I loved every moment of this film, and mainly because it just makes you feel great about life, and everything else within it.