One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 American film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and Will Sampson, this film won all five major Academy Awards.
The movie focuses on the character of Jack Nicholson, who plays Randall Patrick McMurphy, who is accused of statutory rape and is admitted to a mental institution. It is found out that McMurphy is not mentally ill, he just fakes illness so that he could escape the hard work in prison. He admits the truth to Dr. Spivey, who was the head of the institution, but nevertheless the doctor had to take him in to prove to the penitentiary he came from whether or not he was indeed mentally ill.
Further into the movie, we see that McMurphy befriends a number of patients who look upto him as a hero because he doesn’t let nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher) boss him around. He defies her rules, and is very brave; and although the other patients look at him with awe, no-one really joins him in his courageous endeavours to escape the institution.
After one particular incident, McMurphy finds out that the ‘Chief’ (played by Will Sampson), who acts like he’s deaf and dumb, isn’t mentally ill at all. Together they make a plan of escaping the institution. But as fate would have it, on the night of their escape , both McMurphy and the Chief passed out from being overtly drunk from the party which was meant as a cover-up for their escape. In the morning nurse Ratched appears and threaten to tell Billy’s (a nervous stuttering young man) mom that he had sex. Billy panics and kills himself. McMurphy, enraged at Nurse Ratched, chokes her nearly to death until orderly Washington knocks him out.
Later, McMurphy isn’t to be seen anywhere, and the patients discuss that he had secretly escaped, instead of being taken ‘upstairs’. That night, the Chief sees McMurphy being escorted back to his bed and thinks that he has returned for him to escape together. However, he is horrified to see lobotomy scars on his forehead. Unwilling to allow McMurphy to live in such a state, the Chief smothers McMurphy to death with his pillow and then carries out his ingenious plan and escapes from the institution, only in time for one of the patients to wake up and cheer, as the rest followed.
“The film is remembered as a comedy about the inmate revolt led by McMurphy, and the fishing trip, the all-night orgy, and his defiance of Nurse Ratched (Fletcher)–but in fact it is about McMurphy’s defeat. One can call it a moral victory, and rejoice in the Chief’s escape, but that is small consolation for McMurphy. The movie’s simplistic approach to mental illness is not really a fault of the movie, because it has no interest in being about insanity. It is about a free spirit in a closed system.”
Be it Nicholson’s magnificent acting skills, or the mesmerizing storyline, the gripping plot, the insight into the minds of many misunderstood men or the heartbreaking yet liberating ending, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest is a must watch.
Once you’ve finished watching it, you’ll definitely sit back and smile at the beautiful revelation of the name of the movie!