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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The comic energy and tragic weight of Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable performance make this a cinema classic.

Image from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

USA 1975
Dir Milos Forman
With Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson
Certificate 15
A BFI release

The comic energy and tragic weight of Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable lead performance make this a classic of 70s cinema. Adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel, the film centres on Randle McMurphy (Nicholson), a convict who simulates mental illness in the hope that a transfer to a psychiatric hospital might ensure his early release. But he hasn’t bargained on the rigid regimen of Nurse Ratched (Fletcher, also superb), who dislikes his disruptive – though he’d say liberating – effect on the ward. Inspired casting (Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif and Christopher Lloyd are among the patients) and Forman’s naturalistic direction lend authenticity to the proceedings, so that the film succeeds both as an anti-authoritarian parable and as an affecting reminder of the psychiatric practices of the past.

Geoff Andrew, Programmer-at-large

This BFI re-release is to mark Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday on 22 April.

Medication Time at BFI Bar & Kitchen
To tie in with the re-release of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, enjoy a Ratched or Randle McMurphy - one of the many cocktails on offer at BFI Bar & Kitchen this April.


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