Sunday, February 14, 2010
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) stars Jack Nicholson and is directed by Milos Forman. It is an adaption of a novel of the same name written by Ken Kesey. The film won all five of the major Academy Awards, and did surprisingly well at the box office, being one of the highest grossing films of all time, at the time. Now enough of this mindless rambling, and let me explain to you why I think this film is great.
Jack Nicholson plays the part of R.P McMurphy. The kind of guy that everyone knows. He's that testosterone fuelled guy who's a victim of his own high spirits. He means well, but there's an awareness when you're around him that anything can happen, that a sense of danger follows him around. You could say the wrong thing and ignite his temper, but other than that he tries his best to keep a lid on it and get along with people. R.P McMurphy has been sent to a mental instituion from prison so that they can observe him for an amount of time to see whether he really is a crackpot or not. At a meeting with one of the higher ups of the mental instituion asks him why they think they sent him here. He says "Well as far as I can tell it's because I fight and fuck too much". You know the type of guy he is.
In the mental asylum he meets the other patients. They're what you'd expect people to be like who are in mental institutions. I don't need to explain. There doesn't seem to be any life in this place. McMurphy comes in and shakes the place up. Tries to lift the spirits of the other patients for his and their own sake. What he's up against is a cold hearted, bitch of a woman: Nurse Ratched. She runs the shop. Your typical person in authority, she likes being in control for her own sake, and not for the sake of the patients and she enjoys it all. A sadist.
McMurphy asks her to put on the World Series instead of the usual routine they have at that time of day. She replies with the answer that most of the patients would be upset at the change, but puts it to a vote knowing that she'll win. She's right she does win. But when a second chance the next day comes for a chance to vote, McMurphy gets everyone at the group therapy session to vote. Superbitch replies "Thats only nine votes, there's 18 people on this ward. It's 9 to 9 you don't have a majority. She ends the session and McMurphy is obviously outraged that she included catatonic people who can't hear a thing in the vote. What McMurphy does next is masterclass. Not gonna be out done by Nurse Ratched he goes over to the TV and does commentary on the ball game, with nothing on the screen. The other patients join him like they're really at the ball game. Nurse Ratched looses her cool.
Films that were anti authoritorian were popular around the time that this film was made. "Cool Hand Luke" is one that comes to mind first. Standing up to the man. Rebelling against the system. This film is all about rebellion. McMurphy is a hero to the patients. He stands up to Nurse Ratched. He'll either live as a free man or go out fighting. But the people that run the place have ways and means of controlling thier patients. There's a labotomy scene that really gives you an idea of the horrific types of things that went on in these instituions for an amount of time in America. If you want an idea check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0aNILW6ILk to see for yourself. Be warned it's quite graphic. This film is a must see, and one of the few films that I'd call great.