Sometimes the Academy gets it spot on, and awarding the top five Oscars to "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" in the mid-70s isn't a decision many questioned. Milos Forman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel gave Jack Nicholson one of his greatest roles, and even though he isn't on hand for the new DVD release, it's still an education.
Picture Anyone in possession of the 1998 DVD will be overjoyed with the transformation of this film from a scratchy, murky mess to a clear and often quite sharp transfer. Colours are muted, and detail high.
Sound Although this disc comes with a new 5.1 mix, there's not much for the surround speakers to do, except to kick into life with the awful hospital music that drives Nicholson round the bend. Most importantly, the centre dialogue channel is strong and clear.
DISC ONE SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary The one shame about this commentary is that director Milos Forman and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz weren't able to record it together. Forman's dialogue is from the recording he did for the 1997 Pioneer laserdisc, with interview material from Douglas and Zaentz inserted into the gaps Milos left first time around.
Douglas and Zaentz concentrate on the long process of trying to get the film made, while Forman offers wry anecdotes on the cast members. He reveals that Nicholson had quite a time adjusting to the culture shock of being introduced to a cast that had been given time to prepare and get into their characters. They rattled Nicholson so much that he was forced to ask if they would ever come out of character, even for a break.
Additional Disc One Extra Features Also on disc one are cast and crew filmographies, and an awards list.
DISC TWO SPECIAL FEATURES
Making of This 47-minute documentary includes interview extracts that were featured on the Pioneer laserdisc, plus newer material not then available. It works well, although the omission of any input from novelist Ken Kesey seems a little odd. Michael Douglas talks in depth about how his father Kirk (who also pops up) had the original book turned into a play, and planned a movie. Progress was slow, though, especially because of Kirk's stipulations. These were eventually waived, and Milos asked to direct. As Forman reveals, both he and Kirk thought they had fallen-out for over ten years, but this was due to the Czech customs confiscating the book Kirk sent to Milos. While Douglas thought Forman was snubbing him, Milos thought that Kirk had reneged on his promise to send him the book.
There's a surprising amount of behind-the-scenes footage featured, along with great anecdotes from actors Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd, who both suffered terrible seasickness for the boat scene. There's also a fascinating story told about tracking down the giant native Indian - quite a problem, for most of the population don't tend to be very tall.
Deleted Scenes Eight deleted scenes have been found for this disc, and for the most part are quite short and wouldn't have improved the film much. Best of the lot is one entitled, "Who's the Top Looney in Here?"
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Technical Features: Scene selection, multiple languages and subtitles, and English captions for the hearing impaired.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.