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Winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST ($35) is a potent piece of cinema that has lost none of its power, even after more than three decades. In a career filled with memorable performances, Jack Nicholson took home one of his three Oscars for the role of Randall P. McMurphy, the anti-hero lead of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. After meeting McMurphy, we quickly learn he is feigning insanity to get out of a prison work detail. Of course, becoming a resident of the mental ward isn’t the cakewalk McMurphy envisioned, due to presence of Nurse Mildred Ratched (Oscar winner Louise Fletcher), who rules over her ward with an iron-fist. McMurphy’s freewheeling shenanigans fly in the face of Nurse Ratched’s rigid control of the psych ward, and as expected, the two repeatedly butt heads.

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST is more than just a battle of wills between its two leading characters, the film also makes a statement about conformity to the rules versus individual will, which are idealized through Nurse Ratched and McMurphy. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST is also a character drama that benefits from an impressive array of supporting performances. McMurphy’s fellow inmates are more than generic cardboard cutout loonies, each has his own personality and character, which is sometime drawn out only as a result of their interaction with McMurphy or Nurse Ratched. The excellent cast of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST also features Brad Dourif, Scatman Crothers, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, Sydney Lassick, William Redfield and Josip Elic.

Warner Home Video has made ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is the best the thirty three year old film has looked, but this movie will never be considered demonstration material for home theater. Image sharpness and detail are a little variable, sometimes coming across as very crisp and sometimes having a slightly filtered look. There are moments where fine details are easy to discern, but this isn’t always the case. Of course, this is not a flaw in the transfer- just an accurate representation of how this film has always looked. Colors are kind of blah, but this is an accurate rendering of the way some seventies film stocks tended to register hues. Blacks are deep and the whites are just fine. Contrast and shadow detail are adequate. The film elements are reasonably clean and free from major signs of age. Film grain is always present, but not excessive to a film of this vintage.

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. The 5.1 channel track comes across like a thickened version of monaural, which gives a bit of a spread to the film’s music and only an occasional sense of directionality. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth sounding track. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. French, Spanish, Castellan, German and Italian language tracks are also encoded onto the disc.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Director Milos Forman as well as producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas are on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. The Making Of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a forty-seven minute retrospective that looks back on the production. Nineteen minutes of Deleted Scenes and a Theatrical Trailer close out the disc based supplements. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST features book styled packaging that contains thirty-eight pages of photos and production notes.

As I stated above, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST remains a potent piece of character-based cinema. The Blu-ray Disc, while not demo material, is the absolute best this film has ever looked in the home venue. Recommended.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [Blu-ray] (1975)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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