Film Reviews, Short Review

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)


Looking at it today, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest appears quite a lot more complex than it did forty years ago. Look closer at the film – it’s about a group of predominantly white men (with the exception of Chief) being oppressed, or in some cases choosing to be oppressed, by the asexualised matriarchal authority of Nurse Ratched and her orderlies, largely Afro-Americans. The film seems to tease us into supporting Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy in one of the actor’s most famous performances and yet at the same time much of his behaviour is reckless and foolish, something the film only hints at. Is this a flaw of the film? I’m not entirely sure. I feel there’s a more complex reading of the film just lurking beneath the surface of acclaim. It’s not a film about a rebel kicking against the system, it’s about something more root than that, and I’m not sure what it is yet.


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