One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestWarner Bros. (Blu-ray)
A nice rest in a state mental hospital beats a stretch in the pen right? Randle P. McMurphy, a free-spirited con with lightning in his veins and glib on his tongue, fakes insanity and moves in with what he calls the "nuts." Immediately his contagious sense of disorder runs up against numbing routine. No way should guys pickled on sedatives shuffle around in bathrobes when the World Series is on. This means war! On one side is McMurphy. On the other is soft-spoken Nurse Ratched, among the most coldly monstrous villains in film history. At stake is the fate of every patient on the ward. Based on Ken Kesey's acclaimed bestseller One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest swept all five major 1975 Academy Awards.
Milo Forman’s character masterpiece finds its way to Blu-ray in fine form. This has always been a great film and delivered Nicholson his first Academy Award win. The cast as a whole is one of the best ensembles in film history in my opinion and the classic novel is brought to the screen in uncompromising form. I’m overjoyed to see cinema classics like this finding their way to Blu-ray and hope to see many more in the near future.
Warner has been doing an exceptional job with their classic release video transfers and this is no exception. The image has a very film-like quality to it and preserves the details and natural film grain beautifully. Contrast levels are excellent and the image has a very nice depth of field to it. Colors are very natural in balance and hue and I didn’t see any distracting noise. The print is in good condition but there are a few moments when the sharpness of the image wavers a bit. The only distracting quality was some slight motion smearing that was noticed from time to time. Normally this is a side effect of noise reduction filters but the image doesn’t look like it was overly processed. There is no obvious ringing or loss of fine detail anywhere. Overall this is the best I’ve seen this film look to date and a solid HD presentation.
Once again Warner disappoints with their lack of lossless audio support. They continue to be the only major studio not supporting high resolution audio for every title and seem to have no rhyme or reason for the lack of supporting. This is not a very dynamic soundtrack and the mix revolves around the dialogue and the film’s effective score. The score does have a nice open quality to it and its dynamic range was better than I was expecting. The hospital rooms didn’t do any favors for tone quality in dialogue and some of the voice work is on the bright side. This also contributes to a slightly forward quality to the dialogue that doesn’t balance in as well with the film’s ambiance and score as newer soundtracks. While this has nothing to do with the sound format, it was noticeable.
Warner presents this one as one of their coffee table editions and the case features character biographies and quite a few pictures from the production. The disc contains a feature commentary with the director and producers along with some deleted scenes and the trailer. Last up is a production feature complete with behind the scenes footage and interviews.
This has always been a phenomenal film and one of the best character pieces I’ve seen. Warner has done a great job with the video but audio could have used a bit more tweaking. I’m glad to see more classics like this make their way to HD though and hope to see many more.