One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Review

And number 15 in the top 1000 films of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest.  I haven’t read the book, which the film is based on, so I won’t be discussing it in this review.

Jack Nicholson plays a criminal called McMurphy who upon being convicted of the statutory rape of a 15 year old is transferred to a medical institution for a psychiatric evaluation.  His hospital ward is ran by the tyrannical Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher.) McMurphy then leads the other patients in an insurrection against her.

I really liked all of the different characters and how they interacted with each other.  Even though the cast large, each character was quirky enough to distinguish himself from the next, from the deaf mute “Chief” to the stuttering, nervous Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) to the crude and foul-mouthed Max Taber (Christopher Lloyd.) Louise Fletcher was also great as the villainous Nurse Ratched,  Even though, she doesn’t have major screentime or use physical violence, her presence is always felt, even as a threatening and ominous aura.  

The ending of the film was very poignant too.  After Nicholson attacks Nurse Ratched, he is lobotomised and then returned to the ward.  The Chief who has grown close to McMurphy performs a mercy killing on his friend and then escapes.  I found this very poignant, because I always find something powerful in seeing tough, strong men cry.  This is why it was so painful seeing the stoic, solid yet silent Chief exhibit such emotion.  

There were a couple of plot errors that really irritated me, especially concerning the hospital’s security or lack thereof.  The first sees the Chief helping Mcmurphy over the hospital’s perimeter fence, before stealing a bus and taking the other prisoners on a fishing trip.  Firstly, the fence was at least ten foot high and is topped off with barbed wire.   In my day, I’ve climbed under, over and through barbed wire fences and it is nowhere near as easy as McMurphy makes it look.  

Secondly, I find it completely implausible that no security guards or orderlies spotted Mcmurphy climbing over the fence.  My other criticism concerns the scene where Mcmurphy is attacking Nurse Ratched for what seems like a very long time, before the orderlies intervene.  Again, I find it very implausible that orderlies would hesitate at all in stopping an attack like this.

A very interesting film exploring the different reactions to authority and servitude.  Even though this film is very emotionally poignant, it does have a few logical errors, which hurts it badly.  McMurphy might have flown over the cuckoo’s nest in this film, but his loyalty and dedication to his fellow patients are very honourable.

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