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The Jack Nicholson Classic That Ratched Fans Are Loving On Netflix

A new Netflix original series has been lighting up the streaming service since it was released on September 18th, 2020. Ratched gives audiences the origin story of the villainous Nurse Mildred Ratched from the literary classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The show follows its title character as she gets a job as a nurse at a Northern Californian asylum. Right from the beginning, we see what kind of nurse she's going to be, as she immediately resorts to nefarious methods to get her way and get the patients under her control. 

The show has already been renewed for Season 2, but fans of Ratched don't have to wait another year or two to get another peek into this world. Instead of going crazy waiting for more of Nurse Ratched, you can simply turn on a classic film that's now available on Netflix: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson sees Nurse Ratched as a fully-formed antagonist who goes toe-to-toe with Nicholson's R.P. McMurphy after he's admitted to an asylum. It's a classic film any cinephile needs to watch. 

What is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest about?

The film begins with Randle Patrick "R.P" McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) being transferred to an asylum in northern California after serving several months on a prison farm in Oregon on charges of statutory rape and assault of a 15-year old girl. McMurphy isn't actually mentally ill, but he hopes to avoid hard labor associated with prison and serve out the remainder of this sentence in a more relaxed environment. Upon arriving at the asylum, however, he meets Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), a cold tyrant who rules over the patients, giving them a joyless existence. 

R.P befriends other patients in the asylum, including Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) who has a stutter, Dale Harding (William Redfield) who has repressed homosexual urges, and Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick) who's prone to childish tantrums. Over the course of his stay at the asylum, R.P. frequently butts heads with Nurse Ratched. He wants to give the inmates more joy in their lives, while Ratched does everything within her power to stop that from happening.

The film is based on a celebrated, yet controversial, novel

The Jack Nicholson movie is based on a celebrated novel of the same name, written by Ken Kesey in 1962. The primary difference between the two is that the book is narrated by "Chief" Bromden, a half-Native American man who presents himself as mute and deaf. The tale he provides to the reader focuses on R.P. McMurphy as he arrives at the asylum and challenges Nurse Ratched's rule. 

The book wasn't without its controversies. Although it was taught in high school classrooms around the country, many parents attempted to get it banned (via World.edu). In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, Ohio sued the Board of Education to get the book out of classrooms as they deemed it "glorifies criminal activity" and is "pornographic." 

Other schools around the country have banned the novel over the years, extending into the 21st century. The most recent controversy surrounding the novel occurred in 2000 when parents of the Placentia Unified School District in Yorba Linda, California wanted to get rid of the book, even going so far as saying the teachers should "choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again."

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won several Academy Awards

The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was immediately celebrated upon its release in 1975, and won five Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay Adapted From Other Material). It's noteworthy for being one of the few films to win all five major awards at the Oscars, making it only the second film to do so (after It Happened One Night in 1934). The feat wouldn't be repeated again until 1991 with Silence of the Lambs

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has also been honored by the American Film Institute. It ranks at #20 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies list, while Nurse Ratched ranks as the #5 antagonist on AFI's Heroes and Villains list. 

Now, viewers can get a greater glimpse into what makes Nurse Ratched such a terrifying villain. Ratched and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are now available to stream on Netflix.