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29 October 2014
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15Completely Cuckoo (2003)

updated 15th September 2003
reviewer's rating
three star
Reviewed by Jamie Russell


Director
Charles Kiselyak
Stars
Michael Douglas
Milos Forman
Ken Kesey
Length
87 minutes
Distributor
ICA
Cinema
19th September 2003
Country
USA
Genre
Documentary
Web Links
Visit the ICA website



Ken Kesey's groundbreaking novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was once written off as unfilmable because of its risky subject matter and anti-authoritative vision. It finally made it to the screen in 1975, and racked up nine Academy Award nominations (winning the 'big' five).

It also established Jack Nicholson as the leading actor of his generation.

In this retrospective look at the film's history, director Charles Kiselyak extends his original commission to produce a 'Making of' documentary for the Special Edition DVD release, adding around 30 minutes of additional footage to create a standalone feature.

Interviewing the late Kesey, director Milos Forman, cast members and producers, this anecdote-packed documentary goes far beyond the usual PR guff.

Revelations include the fact that Forman considered hiring Bury Reynolds to play the rebellious RP McMurphy, because of his "cheap charisma". There are also the recollections of the cast, who were kept locked up in the real mental institution to get a feel for asylum life!

However, Nicholson's absence is a glaring flaw, and attempts to extend the film's remit beyond its 'Making of' scope fall rather flat. Kiselyak's desire to make a point about the continuing criminalisation of the mentally ill (by returning to the Oregon State Mental Hospital where the film was shot) seems decidedly tacked on.

Perhaps the most intriguing story is Kesey's description of his original screenplay. Acutely aware that the producers wanted a sanitised Hogan's Heroes drama, Kesey turned in an Expressionist nightmare - part mescaline trip and part "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari".

Unsurprisingly the script was instantly rejected, but you can't help thinking that that's one unmade movie that would be like, totally cuckoo, man.

Find out more about "Completely Cuckoo" at
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