One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: A Classic for a Modern Audience
Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was released 45 years ago. It remains one of the most celebrated classics to this day. The film takes place almost entirely indoors and has a run time of 2.5 hours. How has it remained so prominent to this day? Ranking 33 on the AFI’s Top 100, the film is a testament to superb performances and writing. Despite being adapted in the 70s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest remains fit for a modern audience.
Just 10 minutes into the film, you can easily see the mastery of each actor’s craft. The performances never feel forced or fabricated. You feel as though the actors are suffering with their characters. Behind the scenes, accounts seem to also hint at that. Some of the actors experienced short bouts of mental exhaustion and extreme emotions. Sydney Lassick (Cheswick) had to be removed from the set during the last scene because he was emotionally overwhelmed. The performances in the film are so good that reality and fiction seem blurred.
What keeps One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest relevant and revered today is the film’s screenplay. The dialogue of the film is incredibly witty. We find that Jack Nicholson’s lines give him an arrogant yet endearing quality. He is quick-witted, sarcastic, but also charming. The interactions between the patients are another major strength of the writing. The character development is superb, and they exude personality and life. When the characters are playing cards, we get the little nuances of their personalities. Scenes like that help flesh out the details.
While the film deals with a complicated subject matter, it also has some tremendous lighthearted and humorous moments. The boating sequence is an excellent example of infusing life and humor into a serious film. The funny moments seem to outweigh the drama. As a result, the ending of the film is much more impactful. Its tone never feels challenging to sit through. It tackles a difficult topic in a digestible and enjoyable way. As a result, the film endures to this day, ready for new audiences to enjoy.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is available on Netflix!