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"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" - (Ultimate Collection) - {Blu-ray
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date:
Special Features:

Commentary track, documentary, deleted scenes, trailer housed in a deluxe 52 hardback book Rated: R


Playing R.P McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” changed Jack Nicholson’s career. Already well regarded as an actor and having demonstrated box office clout after a decade of learning his craft in low budget stuff like “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Terror” (where Nicholson was to put it mildly terrifyingly bad and extremely stiff opposite horror vet Boris Karloff). ***

Convicted of statutory rape McMurphy might not be anyone’s hero at first but he quickly becomes one for the inmates of the mental facility he’s sent to after irritating the administrators at the work farm that he was sentenced to. McMurphy turns the mental institution upside down immediately questioning authority particularly that of the ward nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher)and gathering a gang of cronies (Will Sampson, Danny Devito, Brad Dourif)who awaken from their drug induced slumber enjoying life. ***

“Nest” might have turned out very different if the original casting (Kirk Douglas who owned the rights but couldn’t get anyone to either come up with a satisfactory adaptation or finance it)and as a literary work Ken Kesey’s novel embodies everything that was important about the 60’s such as questioning authority, pushing the boundary of acceptable behavior before being squashed by the “man” (or in this case the “woman”). ***

Brilliantly directed by Milos Forman and with a screenplay that manages to retain the essence and themes of Kesey’s book by Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben while keeping the film cinematic, “Nest” still resonates because the themes are universal and even more important today in our culture that has become increasingly intolerant while ostensibly “accepting” the differences of others. It’s symptomatic of a larger problem in the United States—the bigger is better syndrome where corporate America has replaced Big Government as the largest threat to individual freedom. In many respects, it’s still embodied by the film if we just substitute the government run mental institution with a private run one. “Nest” should be essential reading or viewing for ALL high school students. ---

Image & Sound: Warner continues to do amazing work with their classic titles on Blu-ray and “Nest” is no exception and while the film does show the passage of time, the Blu-ray manages to convey the look, texture and feel of the film probably better than it looked when it premiered theatrical 35 years ago. As with most films from the 70’s (when newer, more sensitive film stocks were being used but these stocks suffered from high levels of film grain with less accurate colors). ***

The overall look of the film is very pleasing with skin tones looking quite nice although far less accurate than what we would associate with a contemporary film. The sterile look of the hospital and the cold colors that represent the essence of what the hospital embodies look quite nice but be aware that colors are never on the bold side. ***

Detail is quite nice although be aware that the film still looks relatively soft compared to a contempoary feature film. ***

Audio sounds quite nice with a nice 5.1 mix. It’s not exactly active nor does it capture anything like what you would expect a new film to have but dialog remains crisp and clear throughout. ---

Special Features:

We get the extras from the previous two disc edition ported over to this edition including the commentary track by producers Michael Douglas, Sal Zaentz and Mils Forman (all of whom were recorded separately and edited together). We also get eight deleted scenes as well as the original theatrical trailer from that edition. ***

We also get the complete 90 minute documentary “Completely Cuckoo” originally produced for the 2002 edition but edited for presentation on that edition. It’s a terrific documentary that touches on the genesis of the noriginal novel and going all the way through the critical reception of the movie and WHY it is still important. ***

As with many reissues on Blu-ray, Warner has put this encased in a hardback book which features playing cards, photos and comments about the film in its pages. We also get replicas of the posters as well. It’s a nice set. ---

Final Words:

A seminal American film that touches on the insanity of our society and how intolerant we can be in the face of individualism, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” pushed Jack Nicholson from an important actor into a major star. The presentation here is exceptional.


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