One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Special Edition (1975)

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

Released 22-Oct-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary
Awards
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 128:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:49)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Milos Forman
Studio
Distributor
Fantasy Films
Warner Home Video
Starring Jack Nicholson
Louise Fletcher
William Redfield
Michael Berryman
Danny DeVito
Josip Elic
Christopher Lloyd
Sydney Lassick
Vincent Schiavelli
Case Gatefold
RPI $34.95 Music Jack Nitzsche


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (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
Italian
Dutch
German
French
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The second of what has become three films (It Happened One Night before it, and The Silence of the Lambs after) to win the five big Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest also sits at #20 on the American Film Institute’s top 100 films, and at #12 on The Internet Movie Database. It’s fair to call the film one of the greatest ever made. It won five out of nine Oscars, six out of ten BAFTAs and six out of six Golden Globes, among many other accolades. Directed by Milos Forman, who also received the Best Director Oscar for his work on 1985’s Amadeus, Cuckoo is one of my favourite films, and one of the greatest I have ever seen. There is no fault to the entire film, and I find it as close to perfection as anything. It’s hard to know where to begin in reviewing the film, without exaggeration, so forgive me if I ramble.

    I’ll begin with the incredible cast, which included a few fresh faces at the time. Winning his first of three statuettes (Terms Of Endearment and As Good As It Gets followed), the great Jack Nicholson is at the top of his game here as Randle Patrick McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest. I was staggered to find that Jack has won three out of eleven Academy Award nominations, and six out of fourteen Golden Globes. I guess it’s not that surprising, but it is an incredible feat. Oscar winner Louise Fletcher puts in the performance of her lifetime as the cold-hearted Nurse Mildred Ratched. Aside from those two incredible performances, the supporting cast is spot on. Inmate Mancini is played by a very young Danny DeVito, who was relatively unknown at the time. Debuting were Christopher Lloyd (Doc from Back To The Future) as Taber and Oscar nominated Brad Dourif as young Billy Bibbit. Vincent Schiavelli (the guy who teaches Patrick Swayze to kick a can in Ghost) is also great, as is William Redfield as Harding, Josip Elic as Bancini and who could forget Chief Bromden played by Will Sampson?

    If you’ve never seen the film, read the book its based on, or even don’t know what its about, here goes. McMurphy (Nicholson) is committed to the state mental hospital after successfully convincing authorities that he is insane, something which he is not. Despite his mental stability, he slots straight into the ward, and is treated the same as everyone else. The rebellious McMurphy stirs up the ward, and his disrespect for the hospital’s routines causes the cold-hearted Nurse Ratched to react accordingly, in a way which she believes helps the patients, no matter how much harm it may be causing.

    I can’t recall any film taking me through so many varied emotions as Cuckoo’s Nest did when I first saw it, and still does to the same degree after repeated viewing. It’s humorous, heart-warming, inspiring, moving, miserable, disastrous, scary and sickening all in one. But that’s only scratching the surface, as what lies beneath is a ward full of brilliantly portrayed characters, an incredible story, and fantastic direction from Milos Forman. The majority of the film is set inside the ward, a choice made by Forman and producer Michael Douglas, whose father Kirk is the man responsible for this film in the first place. Kirk bought the rights to the story after falling in love with the book, and turned it into a play. He then approached Forman to direct, and sent him a copy of the book, and waited for Forman to get back to him. That never happened, so Kirk’s son Michael re-sent the book, as he too loved it and wanted to see the project happen, to which Forman replied – stating that he never received it from Kirk in the first place. Michael then became co-producer, and the picture was finally made.

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredible film, and is a classic through and through. Superbly written, directed and acted, it stands as one of the greatest films I have ever seen. It is a film that everybody must see at least once in his or her life, and I recommend it to everybody who hasn’t seen it before. If you have, then I’m sure you enjoyed it, and there is no reason this DVD should not have its place in everybody’s collection.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has been remastered for this DVD release, and Warner Home Video have done a magnificent job with it. The first DVD release sported an ugly transfer, which is like night and day to this DVD.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it has been 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is close to perfect, but the original source is now twenty-eight years old, and can still not quite compare to contemporary film, even after a thorough restoration. It’s nothing to degrade the overall score, and it’s the only fault I could find within this exemplary transfer, but I have to nitpick something. Apart from that very minute loss in detail, the shadow details and black levels were spot on, and there was no sign of grain or low level noise.

    Colours appeared very strong for the film’s age, and certainly benefited from the restoration in comparison to the original DVD.

    There were no artefacts throughout, leaving the film looking better than it has in years – if not forever.

    This disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change on Disc 1 occurring at 67:49.

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

Audio

    The audio has been re-mixed for this DVD release, and is a perfect example of how to re-mix an old soundtrack without going overboard.

    We have the choice of English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital mono and Italian Dolby Digital mono soundtracks on the DVD.

    Being a mainly dialogue-driven film, the quality of this mix was of importance, and here it is perfect. Never distorting or becoming unintelligible, it never has problems with audio sync, either.

    The film’s unmistakable score from Jack Nietzsche (The Exorcist, An Officer And A Gentleman) is very nicely represented, and perfectly balanced with the dialogue. Performed with the use of a saw, it perfectly complements the film, and creates an uneasy atmosphere.

    Surround channel usage is subtle, perfectly fitting the film. There’s not much use for the surrounds other than for music or ambience, but the mix is spot-on. By no means is it demo-disc material, but very it is complementary to the movie.

    The original soundtrack leaves the subwoofer with not much to do, which is how it should be for this film. There are no explosions or guns being fired, so there is no need for bass, other than subtle support for the music.

    The overall score for the audio is not an average - I have judged it on how well it fits the film.

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

Extras

     Most of the extra features on this DVD are from the original laserdisc. They must not take up much disc space, and could have probably fitted on the same disc as the film. Thankfully, providing a second disc resulted in a stellar video transfer, so I'm glad to have two discs instead of one.

Main Menu Audio

    A snippet from the score loops over the menu.

Listing-Cast & Crew

    Just that; a listing. Unfortunately no filmographies or biographies.

Audio Commentary

    Featuring director Milos Forman, and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, this commentary features the three voices recorded separately, and spliced together. Providing a great deal of information, this is a great track. It goes into the back-story of how the film came about, and covers location choices such as the decision to shoot within a real hospital as opposed to on a sound stage, which resulted in difficulty with lighting. Also discussed is how the actors were put into group therapy sessions which created an atmosphere which made it difficult to separate illusion from reality - one of the film’s greatest strengths. I won't spoil any more, but this is a must-listen for fans.

Awards

    Five pages of the awards which the film won.

Featurette-Making Of – (47:29)

    Based on the documentary “Completely Cuckoo”, this is one of the better featurettes I have seen in a while. Never becoming promotional, it features interviews with the main cast and crew, and gives some great insight into the background of the film. It’s a pity to read that this doco is just over half the length of its original form, which came from the film’s laserdisc. But rest assured, what we are left with is still of very high quality. It is divided into fifteen chapters, which are selectable from a menu. Like the commentary, it is essential for fans of the film

Deleted Scenes – 8 (13:26 total running time)

    What a nice surprise - some deleted scenes that are actually worth watching for once. I see deleted scenes as one of the features that were cool when I first got my DVD player, but have since managed to bore me most of the time. Not here though, as this bunch provided a fair amount of worthy footage. Presented in non-16x9 enhanced widescreen, they are not in very good shape, but are a great inclusion.

Theatrical Trailer – (2:34)

    Presented in 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen, this is a lengthy trailer, which shows a lot of footage. Watch the film first if you’re a virgin to Cuckoo.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Region 4 DVD is identical to its Region 1 counterpart apart from standard NTSC/PAL differences.

Summary

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a true classic, and features one of, if not the best acting performance from Jack Nicholson's illustrious career. He’s not alone, and along with Louise Fletcher is supported by a great cast. Superbly written and crafted, it is one of my favourite films, and I recommend it to everybody.

    The video transfer is of reference quality.

    The audio transfer is perfect, if not reference quality.

    The extra features are quality over quantity, and perfectly complement the film. All that I look for in a Special Edition are a good commentary, good doco, and some good deleted material. This DVD succeeds admirably in regards to that.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
DVD Net - Robert M
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Robin P

Comments (Add) NONE