In the mid-1970s Miloš Forman began moving a little further away from the Czechoslovak New Wave, and didn't consider it a terrible thing if his films became a hit. But while he broke away from the auteur filmmaking approach of the New Wave, his films in many ways remained European. His first adaptation was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The novel was written by Ken Kesey in 1959, who built on his own experiences after taking part in some secret mind alteration experiments and also working in a mental hospital. The book was published in 1962. It was a hit, and one year later was turned into a play. Then Forman arrived. The story is simple. The brash, cool Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) passes pretends to be crazy and is transferred from a correctional facility to a mental institution. And so he lands in the cuckoo's nest and is shocked to find he has gone from the frying pan into the fire. Into an institution where his punishment may never end. Punishment? But this place is a home for the mentally ill. McMurphy rebels against the institution and the people that carry out the dictatorship within, using all of his power to return to the patients some semblance of human - free -existence.
The film was a massive hit, winning all five of the biggest Oscars in 1976. It was also successful on the other side of the Iron Curtain - the only difference being that here we were able to recognise the lack of freedom in the Soviet political/psychiatric institution. Though we may have read the film slightly differently to American audiences, it was just as important to us to as a valid and meaningful film about freedom and tyranny.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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