full title One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

director Milos Forman

leading actors/actresses Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher

supporting actors/actresses William Redfield, Brad Dourif, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Marya Small, Sydney Lassick, Nathan George, Mwako Cumbuka, William Duell, Delos V. Smith Jr., Dean R. Brooks, Mimi Sarkisian, Vincent Schiavelli, Josip Elic, Peter Brocco, Michael Berryman, Louisa Moritz

type of work Feature film

genre Drama

language English

time and place produced Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem, Oregon, 1975


 · 1975 Academy Awards:
 · Winner, Best Picture (Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas)
 · Winner, Best Director (Milos Forman),
 · Winner, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson)
 · Winner, Best Actress (Louise Fletcher)
 · Winner, Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman)
 · 1975 Golden Globe Awards:
 · Winner, Best Drama
 · Winner, Best Director (Milos Forman)
 · Winner, Best Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman)
 · Winner, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson)
 · Winner, Best Actress (Louise Fletcher)
 · Winner, Best Movie Debut (Brad Dourif)
 · 1975 Director’s Guild Award to Milos Forman

date of release 1975

producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas

setting (time) 1963

setting (place) Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem, Oregon

protagonist Randle P. McMurphy, a rebellious convict sent by a prison work farm to a state mental hospital for evaluation

major conflict McMurphy struggles against the forces of tyranny, conformity, insanity, evil, and death embodied by his nemesis, the head nurse of the mental hospital, Nurse Ratched.

rising action Energized by his love for life, McMurphy opposes Nurse Ratched’s control and challenges the system of reality she imposes by coaching the patients to take risks, escaping with them to go fishing, and encouraging them to question authority.

climax After Nurse Ratched discovers Billy Bibbit in bed with Candy, she makes him feel so ashamed that he commits suicide. McMurphy, upon learning of the suicide, strangles Nurse Ratched until guards take him away.

falling action Nurse Ratched escalates her efforts to break McMurphy through electroshock treatment, destruction of his disciples, and surgical lobotomy, but the Chief thwarts her by freeing McMurphy’s spirit in an act of mercy killing.

themes Conformity as a threat to freedom; the contradiction between tyranny and sanity; the sacred nature of the individual

motifs Obstacles to personal freedom; games; the rebel as savior; hearing as a human connection

symbols Keys; cigarettes; pornographic playing cards

foreshadowing McMurphy’s history of assaults; Billy Bibbit’s first suicide attempt; McMurphy’s escape over the fence on the Chief’s back; McMurphy’s zombie walk after electroshock therapy; blood on the starched white uniforms