I have to admit that it’s been a good long while since I last saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but that doesn’t stop me from knowing instantly that this ranks right up there as one of the greatest films ever made.
In fact, if I didn’t have such a personal affinity with my number one pick, Almost Famous, I would have to say that this one ranks right up there as my all time favourite piece of cinema.
Though it may have been released a whole nine years before yours truly was even born, this absolute masterpiece from director Miloš Forman remains truly timeless, and makes as big an impact today as I imagine it must have been when it first hit cinema screens back in 1975.
There are, of course, a number of factors contributing to the undeniable presence and power of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
An Incredible Cast
Naturally, all credit has to go to leading man Jack Nicholson. His Randal the unbridled storm of charisma and magnetism.
His Randle McMurphy is the unbridled storm of charisma and magnetism which blusters through the entire story, gathering every scene in his eager arms and elevating this from just another movie to something very, very special.
Not that Nicholson is the only thing worth watching here.
Danny Devito (a man I currently love watching in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Martini, Sydney Lassick as Charlie Cheswick, and Brad Dourif as Billy Bibitt personally stood out for this writer as delivering memorable performances.
Also of particular note, is Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of the cold, emotionless Nurse Ratched, a figure who in many ways is just as psychotic, if not more so, than the very men she is put in charge of.
A Truly Engaging Story
So yes, there is a very talented cast here, but it’s what Forman has that cast do that makes this film such a brilliant piece of cinema.
Namely, he presents them in a way that you simply can’t help but find yourself fully empaphising with the characters in a way that fully tugs on the emotions all the way from the very beginning to the dramatic and disturbing climax.
It’s this effortless ability to fully engage you in the scary, troubling, and yet at times frequently laugh-out-loud funny, that really makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest stand out head and shoulders above many other classics of this period.
I’ve often believed that the hallmark of any good film is one that makes you forget you’re even watching a film at all.
You know the type I mean, don’t you?
The type of film that truly transports you out of your seat, that wraps itself around you and draws you in so that the only two things in the world that exist at that moment are you and the story.
The kind of film you find yourself truly lost in, unable to draw yourself away, not merely watching but engaging, feeling, as if everything that is happening is happening to someone you love, or even happening to you.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is that kind of film, and it’s for this reason -not to mention many others- that it truly derserves all the acolades it receives as one of the greatest movies of all time.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is film number 2 on my list of the Top 12 Greatest Films of All Time. Number One is Almost Famous, which you can read here.