One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Remastered) (1975)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-May-1999

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 128:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Milos Forman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jack Nicholson
Louise Fletcher
William Redfield
Case Snapper
RPI $29.95 Music Jack Nitzsche


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Note: The following review is essentially identical to the one found here which refers to the original version of this DVD with the exception of the differences between it and this 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 had 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 in 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 without fail brilliant: 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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video


Technical Note - Identifying The Remastered DVD

    There are two versions of this DVD available. The earlier version of this DVD was mastered incorrectly at 2.35:1 which resulted in many scenes being extensively cropped top and bottom. This remastered version is presented in the correct aspect ratio.

    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 transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    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.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track on this DVD is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack, however, for all intents and purposes it plays very much like a mono track, which was the original theatrical format. There were no specific flaws to speak of.

    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. 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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a reasonable selection of extras, and despite the fact that they are all text-based, there is a reasonable amount of information if you care to do some reading. Biographical details are somewhat out of date, being current to some time in 1997. Overall, this is a reasonably disappointing package in light of the extras provided with the laserdisc release which include, amongst a swag of other extras, an Audio Commentary track.

Menu

    A static and silent affair, it is based around the cover shot.

Recommendations

    Half a dozen slicks from the Warner stable.

Cast & Crew

    Short biographies and career highlights of Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Milos Forman, screenwriters Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, Ken Kesey, producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas and Haskell Wexler.

Supporting Players

    Similar details to the above for Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif.

Memorial to Scatman Crothers

    A further category for the presentation of similar information.

A 13 Year Effort

    Brief details of the extended gestation period from stage to screen.

Casting

    Even briefer details of the casting process.

On Location

    Some information concerning the identity of the location, and some of the appropriately qualified extras.

Awards

    A listing of the mountain of awards won by this movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 4 version is the clear winner with enhanced audio and video.

Summary

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an all-time classic, featuring one of the finest performances from Jack Nicholson, one of the best actors of his generation (and arguably all-time). The video transfer is somewhat problematic, in light of the apparent complete lack of restoration work done on the 25 year old source material, but the audio transfer is reasonably good, again bearing in mind the mono source. The extras are disappointing in the context of a substantial amount of material in existence as evidenced by the laserdisc release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Curulli (read my bio)
Saturday, December 09, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D608
SpeakersFront: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE