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ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST

Director: MILOS FORMAN

133 minutes| U.S.A.| 1975| Colour| 35mm


Czech emigre director Milos Forman was unaware of the mythical status of Ken Kesey’s novel with America’s counter-culture when he made this realist adaptation which largely eliminates the psychedelic aspects of the original. For Forman, it’s another story of the helplessness of the individual when facing an all-powerful establishment. In what proved to be just one in a series of unrestrained star turns, Jack Nicholson plays Randle P. McMurphy, a fiercely individualistic outsider who penetrates the closed world of an insane asylum. After observing the institution’s absurdities, the mindless apathy of both patients and staff, and the sadism behind the head nurse’s false concern for her charges, Nicholson begins to organise a rebellion. Cuckoo’s Nest has been much criticised for its depictions of mental illness and institutions, but it’s not really a film about mental health issues and is only about mental institutions insofar as they share characteristics with other forms of repressive organisation.

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