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One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

The comic energy and tragic weight of Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable lead performance make this a classic of 70s cinema. Adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel, the film centres on Randle McMurphy (Nicholson), a convict who simulates mental illness in the hope that a transfer to a psychiatric hospital might ensure his early release. But he hasn’t bargained on the rigid regimen of Nurse Ratched (Fletcher, also superb), who dislikes his disruptive – though he’d say liberating – effect on the ward. Inspired casting (Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif and Christopher Lloyd are among the patients) and Forman’s naturalistic direction lend authenticity to the proceedings, so that the film succeeds both as an anti-authoritarian parable and as an affecting reminder of the psychiatric practices of the past.

This BFI re-release is to mark Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday on 22 April.

Review by Geoff Andrew, Programmer-at-large.

DISCOVER BFI SOUTHBANK

BFI SOUTHBANK IS A WORLD-RENOWNED, FOUR-CINEMA FILM CENTRE. 

showing a huge selection of classic and contemporary films each year, BFI Southbank screens both new and re-releases, film seasons and director and actor retrospectives.

You can also access over 1,000 hours of films for free in the BFI Mediatheque and peruse a world-renowned library collection. 

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BFI Southbank

Belvedere Road, South Bank London SE1 8XT