I decided that I wanted to watch this film as soon as I started the book just last week. The book was excellent and Kesey stylishly unveils the plot with a clear centre around Chief and McMurphy. After seeing and hearing so many good things about the film, with it winning the Big 5 at the Academy Awards for: Director (Milos Forman;) Leading: Actress (Louise Fletcher,) Actor (Jack Nicholson;) Writing (Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman) and finally Best Picture, as well as receiving an incredible 8.7/10 on IMDb, I was really excited to see what the film had to offer. However, I was nervous and fairly certain it may disappoint; as, to date I have not enjoyed any book to film adaptation (of a book I had read beforehand.) Regardless, I wanted to enjoy the film, and hoped it would further accentuate the pleasure garnered from reading the book, so went in with an open mind.
What is it about?
R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is tired of his work farm prison sentence and decides to work on his transfer to a mental institution in return for an easier end to his sentence. When his transfer is finally agreed, he turns his attention to rousing the withdrawn inmates into a rebellion against the domineering and wholly over-mastering Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher.) His task is unexpectedly challenged as he finds the patients are much more loyal to the Nurse than he could of imagined. The group’s fear of her power has become tightly ingrained in their essence and it takes all of his strength to formulate a plan for even minor change. But what will be the personal cost of his troublesome nature?
What did I think?
I thought this film was impressively made with incredible performances across the board with my personal favourite coming from Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit. I thought his performance was emotional and physical; it really drew me in and pushed me as close to tears as I got throughout the whole film. I am shocked he didn’t win the Oscar with such success in other categories across the board. However, I thought Jack Nicholson’s performance was also very poignant and clearly worthy of the Leading Actor honours. I wasn’t as impressed by Louise Fletcher’s- Nurse Ratched; as, I thought more could have been done to show a progression from: calm and collected, to angry and actively antagonistic. However, it seems that general opinion falls against me as she received all the major awards in her category. I thought that the group’s chemistry was fantastic and I believe that is pivotal in the centre of this film. Finally, I thought the writing was fantastic- it really transferred well to the cinematic medium and worked as an overall film.
However, as I had read the book, slight differences or scenes that I thought were key that were left out, became real frustrations. A key scene, regarding Cheswick (Danny DeVito) was left out in the film; but in my opinion, is absolutely pivotal during the narrative of the book. I believe leaving this out was one of the only real missteps of the film; but, it was a minor insignificance in the overall scheme of things. Finally, although I find it hard to pin it down on one specific thing, something felt off with the film’s development. It was not substantial or even distracting; but, it was there and has stuck in my head ever since. In time I will revisit the film to see if I can: identify a subject for my angst or even just get rid of my suspicions.
In conclusion, although I had my reservations, I really liked the film. I thought the performances were impressive and everybody was allowed to thrive under careful direction, with an interesting abbreviation of the story. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say I’ve found a book to film adaptation that I like.
My Rating- 7/10