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  • by David C. Terr

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    one flew over the cuckoos nest movie posterTitle: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Director: Milos Forman

    Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Brad Dourif

    Release Date: Nov. 19, 1975 (USA)

    Running Time: 133 min

    Genres: Drama

     

    Commentary
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a very powerful movie about a mental hospital. It is based on a 1962 novel of the same title by Ken Kesey. The acting is exceptional, especially that of Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched.

    Plot Summary
    Randle Patrick McMurphy (Nicholson) is a petty criminal who's been sentenced to a brief time in prison. He decides to get transferred to a mental institution by pretending to be insane. Unfortuantely, things don't work out so well over there. He's placed in a ward run by the tyrannical Nurse Ratched (Fletcher), who plays very demeaning pyschological games with the patients, most of whom are there by choice.

    McMurphy tries to shake things up a bit to give the patients a sense of hope. One day he manages to take them on a fishing trip. Another time, when the nurse is away, he turns the ward into a party, serving alcohol and even getting Billy (Dourif), one of the patients, laid by one of his friends. When Nurse Ratched returns, she's appauled at what occurred, so she plays a horrible psychological game with Billy which causes him to commit suicide. McMurphy becomes so upset by this that he tries to kill Nurse Ratched and ends up breaking her neck. After this, he's given a lobotomy and ends up a vegetable. Chief Brombden (Sampson), another patient, unable to see McMurphy is such a state, smothers him with his pillow and manages to escape from the ward.

    Cultural Significance
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a huge success. It was the first movie since It Happened One Night (1934) to win each of the five major Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the only other movie to do so being Silence of the Lambs (1991). The movie was also highly influential in the way it portrays mental institutions, ultimately resulting in many of them being shut down, for better or for worse.

    Movie Clips

    Here's the original movie trailer.

     

    Here's the scene in which he receives electroshock therapy.

    WARNING: Not for the lighthearted!

     

    Here's the powerful ending.

    WARNING: This scene contains violence.

     


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