One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
IMDB Rating 8.8/10 133 min - Rated 18 Drama
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher Director: Milos Forman
When petty criminal R.P. McMurphy (Nicholson) opts for a stint in a pyschiatric hospital over a prison sentence, he believes he's getting off lightly. A natural free spirit and no passive accepter of authority, it isn't long before he is trying to rebel against the dominating and degrading atmosphere that is largely controlled by the austere Nurse Ratched (Fletcher). In a film that clearly wears its heart on its sleeve when dealing with the difficult subject of mental health and its treatment, this is really only a sub-plot to the central theme; the subjugation of the individual and his or her enforced conformity to the rules of society. Nicholson plays the part of the subversive anarchist with suburb intuition, proving beyond reasonable doubt that if people have their identities removed and their problems pigeon-holed, they lose the very human traits that mould them as individuals. McMurphy provides an alternative path for some of the patients, showing them snippets of the life they deserve; a brief glimpse of the freedoms most of them will never enjoy. In the end, McMurphy's undermining of the hospital rules leads to his own downfall as he is kept on as a patient and prescribed treatments that will inevitably take away his individuality and worse. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest was the first film in forty one years to win all five of the top Academy Awards which is a considerable feat considering that it very nearly didn't get made.