One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1975|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Milos Forman|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Note: The following review is essentially identical to the one found here which refers to the remastered version of this DVD, with the exception of the differences between this version and the remastered version. See Technical Note below for details.
Winner of the "Big Five" Oscars for best director, actor, actress, picture and adapted screenplay, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has made its way into cinematic history as one of the best films ever, not least of which for the acclaimed career-making performance of its star, Jack Nicholson.
Nicholson plays R. P. McMurphy, a violent criminal who has now been transferred to an institution for the mentally ill for evaluation - is he crazy, is he lazy, or can the prison guards just not handle him? It's up to Dr Spivey (Dean R. Brooks, an actual doctor from the hospital where the movie was filmed) to find out. In the meantime, Mac is placed into a ward featuring a variety of "mental defectives" including the child-like Martini (Danny DeVito), the shy, stuttering Billy (Brad Dourif), whose problems seem to arise from the women in his life, the intelligent, analytical Harding (William Redfield) who can't get over the infidelity of his wife and the fact that it may have been caused by his own failure to perform, the trouble-maker Taber (Christopher Lloyd) and the deaf and dumb Chief (Will Sampson).
The ward is run under the cold, hard hand of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), whose very presence is enough to subdue any spark of life in her charges, until McMurphy arrives on the scene with an intention to "drive a bug up her ass". McMurphy, though, may have bitten off more than he can chew, as the system that he is trying to buck is a little bigger than the ward of patients that he comes to care for.
Based on the novel by Beat Generation author Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a powerful examination of the role of authority in society and its potential for corruption, as well as something of a comment on the mental health system in which it is set. McMurphy is the Christ-like rebel figure at the head of his dishevelled band of motley disciples, showing them what it is to live life free from the yoke of their authoritarian oppressor. Director Milos Forman (Amadeus) and Oscar nominated cinematographer Haskall Wexler (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) together through sound, light and dull colour afford the viewer an experience of the lives of their institutionalized characters that is simultaneously funny and deeply moving. Forman coaxes amazing performances from all of his actors as his camera lingers in all the right places allowing a window into their very souls. The actors themselves are brilliant without fail: from debutantes Dourif (Dune, nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar), Lloyd (Back to the Future Trilogy) and a very youthful Danny DeVito to the more experienced Will Sampson (The Outlaw Josey Wales), Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II: The Heretic) and William Redfield (Death Wish).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a movie to experience and savour, and comes from a time when movies meant a little more than 90 minutes of mindless entertainment.
Technical Note - Identifying The Remastered DVD
There are two versions of this DVD available. This version of this DVD was mastered in the incorrect aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which results in many scenes being extensively cropped top and bottom. The remastered version is presented at the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Identifying the version of the DVD that you have is relatively simple. The version to avoid is labelled on the packaging as merely "Widescreen" whilst the remastered version is clearly labelled "Widescreen 1.85:1". The pressing numbers, displayed on both the spine of the slick and on the DVD itself are also different. The remastered pressing number is 37600, whilst the earlier version carries the number 36222. The two versions appear to be identical but for the differing aspect ratio.
The first thing to note about this transfer is that it has been incorrectly framed: you'll see from the above that the theatrical aspect ratio for this movie was 1.85:1, however this transfer is presented at 2.35:1 (with 16x9 enhancement). If you think that this leads to a severe cropping of the image, then you're right. In many scenes (especially those involving tight close-ups) there are obvious elements of the scene missing, such as heads "cut off" and the like.
The transfer in general terms was reasonably sharp, and foreground detail was excellent, however background detail left a little to be desired. Shadow detail was reasonable as well, but for the grain referred to below. As soon as the light dropped in any given scene, grain crept in almost automatically. In some of the later scenes of the movie shot in semi-darkness this defect becomes quite distracting, and there is grain present in almost every scene from 86:08 onwards. Occasionally, there were some instances of much less noticeable grain in brightly lit shots, such as between 76:09 and 78:27.
Probably resulting from a combination of intention and age of the source material, the colour palette is quite muted. Remember, this movie is set in the early seventies in an institution for the mentally ill, so as you'd imagine, greys and beiges are the order of the day. The occasional brighter colour is rendered reasonably well, if not altogether vibrantly. Skin tones are rather good, and blacks are ever-so-slightly tinged with brown in a manner consistent with 25 year old source material.
I didn't notice any MPEG artefacts, however there were a couple of very minor instances of aliasing, one of which occurred at 4:18 on some chrome trim on a car. There was also an instance of what appeared to be telecine wobble at 98:00, in a shot that was also extremely grainy. There was a strange sort of vertical wobble from 5:18 to 5:35 which may have merely been a slightly exaggerated jiggle of the camera, Steadycam still being a few years away from development at the time that this picture was made. Film artefacts were out in absolute force: nicks, scratches, dust, and any other cause you'd care to name, this transfer has them all. I can't recall a frame of the movie that was devoid of some sort of marking. It's almost criminal to allow a film of this stature to degenerate so. I would have thought that a movie that won so many Oscars deserved to be preserved thoughtfully.
The dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand, however, it must be borne in mind that that the majority of the characters are raving nutters, and accordingly, the delivery of some of the dialogue left a little to be desired, and at times, some of the screaming verges on the point of distortion. Audio sync was not a problem with this transfer whatsoever.
The Jack Nitzsche (The Exorcist) Oscar nominated score was extremely sparse, presumably to heighten the reality factor, making only three or four appearances throughout the entire feature. When it did appear, it was quite folksy with an orchestral undercurrent, and suited the feel of the movie quite well. There were, however, a number of instances of in-movie music with classical music being played daily to the members of the ward.
The surround channels were used only sparingly, mostly for the music. There was, however, one scene in particular at around the 77:00 mark where the characters are in a busy part of the hospital and some nicely immersive atmospheric effects appear. Disappointingly, this didn't occur elsewhere.
The subwoofer rarely got a gig with the exception of supporting the lower end of the score and for the occasional crashing of furniture when one of the aforementioned nutters had a turn.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W|