A petty criminal fakes insanity to serve his sentence in a mental ward rather than prison. He soon finds himself as a leader to the other patients—and an enemy to the cruel, domineering nurse who runs the ward.
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One of the great humanistic masterpieces of cinema and quite possibly the peak of acting. Forman just let's everything happen so naturally. This supposed sterile style also work thematically as it reflects the conditions of this place. It's a work that shows the ethical reality of institutions. Sure, the characters make mistakes but isn't that their right. Who are they to say that their way of enjoying life is wrong.
Ken Kesey's novel is disturbingly brilliant, and I should not have watched this so soon after reading it, because I spent at least half the film being distracted by thoughts of, "No, that's not how it happened in the book!" I don't do well with change.
The collection of outstanding performances is incredible, and Milos Forman perfectly captures the cultural struggles of the 1970s. The film gives justice to the book, and stands on its own as one of the best American movies ever made.
I wish Jack had never made another film after this one. I guess the shining was ok, but not because of him./// 2nd viewing, 40 years later...now I appreciate so much the beautiful photography by Haskell Wexler, which along with the brilliant supporting performances makes this film truly great.
This is a great film. Powerful and gripping with Nicholson and Fletcher at the top of their form. Superb direction from Milos Forman providing a great portrait of these characters and their lack of sanity.