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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest(1975)
Upon arriving at a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive Nurse Ratched, a woman more dictator than nurse.
For more about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray release, see One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on August 12, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Dean R. Brooks, Scatman Crothers, Michael Berryman
Director: Milos Forman
» See full cast & crew
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray Review
The free spirit of Randle Patrick McMurphy plays loud and clear on Warner's BD release.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, August 12, 2008
Continuing its BD book editions of classic catalog titles, Warner issues a Best Picture Academy Award winner on Blu-ray disc. While the packaging of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is beautiful and the film is legendary, Warner is still cutting corners in production, opting for a Dolby Digital track instead of high-resolution audio. The sound is not bad and the video isn't either--far surpassing previous DVD versions. A low-budget production, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was never going to win any awards for cinematography or sound engineering, audio or video, anyway. So one can argue, "what's the point of HD?". The point is to make the best presentation possible. However, Warner's standard definition approach to audio can be forgiven and, in fact, the DD track appears to have been produced with at least some focus on quality and attention to detail. More importantly, the film is to be celebrated in 1080p for the sheer power and depth of the characters and story.
If ever there was a character in American fiction who perfectly suited Jack Nicholson, it was Randle Patrick McMurphy from Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Kesey's bestselling novel explored the theme of freedom against confines of society by taking a close look at the characters in a ward at a mental institution. The story is essentially Foucaultian. It is a commentary on the social structures that exert order and discipline on us all, and how the human spirit--in danger of being snuffed out by rigid structure and the threat or practice of discipline--can triumph and free itself.
Defying authority embodied by the manipulative nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), McMurphy is the champion of freedom. His spirit may not survive the harshest disciplinary action, but McMurphy's drive to escape his confines is infectious and lights the fire of freedom in others. Sent from a penitentiary to the institute for observation, McMurphy's mischievous antics lead the authorities to keep him in the ward rather than discharging him back to prison. But McMurphy doesn't immediately realize that his court sentence is meaningless at the institute. When he finally discovers he could be held indefinitely, he confronts other inmates who didn't warn him, and discovers they are there voluntarily. His horror at this discovery is even greater than his concern about his own plight. McMurphy's association with his peers and his drive for their freedom as well as his own places him at odds with Nurse Ratched and the two opposites head for an inevitable showdown.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray, Video Quality
With a VC-1 encode and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest delivers high-quality 1080p. The definition is by no means reference quality; however, the resolution is an enormous step up from the NTSC versions we have all been watching for the past 20 years, on DVD or when the networks show One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Textures on clothing and highlights or sheen on skin tones is especially improved compared to DVD versions. The definition is not as dramatic, but the overall impact of the film is stronger in 1080p. Supple grain is visible, especially in darker areas, although it appears that Warner has applied its token DNR. Blacks are inky and deep, showing good detail in grey areas and dark scenes. Likewise, light areas, such as the white uniforms of the inmates and staff, show strong brightness and contrast.
A major achievement for this BD release is its depth of picture. The outdoor shots are a good indicator of how the picture benefits from transfer to 1080p. Of course the most dramatic shots deliver the front-to-back definition of scenes involving people or objects that appear close in the foreground, giving way to a long distance view in the background. Rarely is this near versus far definition shown better than during the exercise breaks outside the asylum on the basketball court. The foliage and suburban landscaping go soft in the background but with much stronger resolution than NTSC versions. And Nicholson's facial expressions and dark leather jacket are paid off with the 1080p. Another good scene for depth is during the "fishing expedition" on the boat, when the camera pans back to reveal the boat far off shore. The visuals never rise to the level of "stunning" or "reference quality", but I found the picture to be something of a revelation for this classic.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The audio resolution, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, does not showcase a significant improvement over the DVD version, never rising to the level of reference-quality BD. From the earliest notes of the scraggly, native American-inspired score, the sound is anchored across the front three channels. I would have preferred a high resolution mono mix to the DD 5.1. That said, dialog is resolved with good clarity and definition. Though surrounds and the LFE channel are not a major part of the audio track, only delivering ambient sound, the DD 5.1 is critical in a couple of the crowded scenes in the ward when the noises of inmates, microphoned speech, orchestral score and shouting must all be resolved. The Blu-ray manages to keep a certain amount of definition around each piece of the sonic landscape. Even the vinyl playback of classical recordings in Ratchet's ward sounds lush. But the noises are stuck to the speakers and do not image the way lossless mixes create a 3D soundstage.
Listen to the sequence during one of Nurse Ratched's therapy sessions when the dialog begins as soft mumbling and gradually crescendos to a point where the inmates are all shouting above each other, culminating in someone burning with a cigarette and screaming at the top of his lungs. The detail is actually palpable, despite the DD standard track. Each vocal is clearly audible and communicates excellent detail from the characters, though the voices collectively do not have the separation or air associated with quality BD audio. It essentially sounds like a very good DVD. Listen to the increasingly concerned and manipulative tone in Nurse Ratched's voice as the session spirals out of control. Another interesting scene to evaluate the sonics is the boat trip. It features a tremendous amount of noise from the wind and the boat's motor, as well as the water. None of this is resolved particularly well and hinders the dialog. Again, it sounds like a DVD. That's because DD 5.1 is DVD quality. It would be nice if Warner would at least make the effort to deliver something special, of reference quality.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nothing new to see here, folks. The two-DVD special edition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest covers all the bonus materials included on the BD version. In fact, the port is the same 480p/i/MPEG-2 video. It includes the following:
• Audio Commentary—The commentary track features director Milos Forman and producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas discussing such topics as the challenges of adapting Ken Kesey's book to film.
• The Making of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest—Clocking in at 47 minutes, the documentary is not quite as informative as the audio commentary. Cast and crew including Forman, Zaentz, Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas all contribute. Though Nicholson is nowhere to be seen, the documentary does provide information on an early stage version.
• Deleted Scenes—The eight deleted scenes last a total of 19 minutes, shown here in standard definition (as are the other bonus features). The scenes are actually interesting and could just as well have been included in the film than on the editing room floor.
• Theatrical Trailer—The film's theatrical trailer is included, but it's a long way from HD quality.
• Collectible Booklet—In keeping with Warner's nifty new booklet versions of classic films produced on BD, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest includes 32 color pages sandwiched between the covers. The booklet includes brief production notes, bios, photographs, and an article on the cultural impact of the film.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The booklet BD release of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a gorgeous package and, while one may argue about the technical benefits over the previous DVD release, it is an easy recommendation. I do find myself feeling increasingly ambivalent about the film, especially compared to Kesey's novel. While Nicholson is successful in embodying the boisterous McMurphy character, he never rises to the mythological level achieved in Kesey's masterpiece. And one can argue that his trademark overacting does not fully work in some scenes. Nevertheless, there is good reason the film won an Oscar for best picture. It is essential viewing. And I'd much rather be viewing the Blu-ray version than any previous release.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Other Editions
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 15th, 2008 - July 15, 2008
This week, film fans get another taste of classic cinema with the Blu-ray release of the now legendary Jack Nicholson film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' from Warner Home Video. When a film of this caliber gets released on Blu-ray - winner of five Academy Awards ...
• One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Coming to Blu-ray - May 19, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they are bringing the Academy Award-winning film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' to Blu-ray on July 15th as a coffee book edition, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. Video will be presented as 1080p VC-1 and accompanied ...
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