Friday, 16 July 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 304

105 - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - 4 stars
Is there more to the film than just the Jack Nicholson show? Yes there is... just about.
Jack whilst never less than entertaining, can be put into the same category as Al Pacino, in that after they won their Best Actor Oscar, more often than not they just seem to repeat aspects of that performance. Pacino won for Scent of a Woman and ever since he has hardly stopped doing the shouty "Hoo-ah!" thing, and with Jack there are elements of the manic McMurphy in several of the characters he has done since including The Joker, Melvin Udell, Daryl Van Horne and of course Jack Torrance.
Speaking of The Shining, I hadn't realised that Scatman Crothers is in this film too and once again because of Jack things don't end well for him.
Because I was able to see beyond Nicholson's performance, I was able to appreciate the themes and issues raised by the film much more.
It is very much anti-authority and anti-establishment and it centres on a battle of wills between McMurphy, an inmate of the asylum who is only there to try and avoid prison, and Nurse Ratched, the tyrannical head nurse of the asylum, whose dominance and control over the patients is lost due to McMurphy's influence over the group.
Of the group some characters get more development than others. A very young Christopher Lloyd and Danny Devito are merely sketches of characters, whilst The Chief and B-B-Billy Babbit get more screen time.
Having said that, there should have been more time spent discussing the relationship between Babbit and his mother as one of the main plot points at the end of the story hinges on this and I wasn't convinced by the course of action that Billy takes.
It determines the outcome of the battle between Ratched and McMurphy, with someone ultimately paying the price of standing up against authority but it is a hollow victory.

Days remaining - 61 Films remaining - 65

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