‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ an undebatable classic


Rob Le Cates

Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

Drew Coffey, Columnist

Jack Nicholson, Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, and the actor who voices chucky from “Child’s Play?” These are a few of the actors in the award winning 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” directed by Milos Forman.

After its release, the film received great critical acclaim from both critics and audiences as it earned an astonishing $163 million at the box office.

The film also rocked the Oscars taking the Best Picture award while having Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher take the award for best actor and actress. The film also won the Oscar for best director and best screenplay in 1976.

It tells the story of Randle McMurphy, played by Nicholson, who is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation. McMurphy goes in thinking it will be a playground, until he meets Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, who runs the institution with an iron fist.

It goes without saying that the film has a slew of characters played by celebrities before they made it big. Because of this, the film feels more authentic as we are not just seeing them as the actors but real people.

Jack Nicholson is fantastic and steals every scene he is in as he tries to get under Nurse Ratched’s skin throughout the film. Notably, Louis Flether is subtly terrific as she goes against McMurphy in many scenes without saying an ocean of words or even raising her voice.

She has a towering presence over the people at the institution and it is shown by her powerful, manipulative personality.

The heartwarming way the patients interact with McMurphy when he arrives is the heart of the film. McMurphy is really the only person who sees them as true people and they begin to see him as a beacon of hope throughout the film.

The cinematography is very simple yet effective as the camera will occasionally zoom in on a character to get their reaction to a situation. Nowadays, a film must have breathtaking cinematography and camera work to win awards like an Oscar.

While the camerawork is simple, that is because the variety of characters is by far the main focus of this film. The relationships and special moments that McMurphy has with each of the patients is what makes the film so endearing.

However, the main relationship that really elevates “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is the one between McMurphy and the quiet but alarmingly huge brute known as Chief. Throughout the film, Chief is a quiet man who never really opens up to anyone.

Interestingly, once McMurphy arrives at the institution does he comes out of his shell and reveals more about himself as the film progresses.

Ultimately, the film delivers on a very human level, showing that there is beauty in the most ugly and hopeless of places. It also sincerely expresses the idea that people who suffer from metal disorders should not be ashamed for their issues and rejoice in their imperfections as nobody is truly perfect.

With that, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a timeless and emotionally endearing film that offers a great group of characters to deliver a sincere message of individuality.

Overall rating: 4.5/5


Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.