Blu-ray Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (35th Anniversary Collector’s Edition)

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Warner Home Video’s 35th Anniversary Edition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a true collector’s item offering up an impressive package of extras as well as a Blu-ray disc that’s not exactly like the previously released 2008 Digibook edition. However, packaging and extras aside the real bonus here is the film. It’s a film that doesn’t age and simply seems to get better each time you watch it.

I can’t remember the last time I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I didn’t own it until now, and now that I do it’s hard to imagine not having it as part of my collection. First instinct would be to say this isn’t a film that tremendously benefits from a high-definition upgrade, but when comparing screen captures from the previously released DVD edition to this Blu-ray release you can see improved detail, flesh tones seem far more true to real life and the film overall is less murky (see comparison further down the page). However, I can’t imagine the audio is a major upgrade considering both sport a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

As for the included features, this release boasts pretty much the same package as the previously released Blu-ray digi-packaging, which was released back in 2008 with one noticeable addition.

First off, you get the same audio commentary ported over from the old school laserdisc release splicing in interviews with producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz along with director Milos Foreman’s actual commentary. The commentary is followed up by a batch of deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

New to the release is the “Completely Cuckoo” documentary, which was released in short form on the previous Blu-ray at 47 minutes, but what you get here is the complete 87 minute version, which pretty much makes the audio commentary rather worthless since most of what’s covered here pretty much takes care of it all. Additionally, there’s a new featurette called “Asylum: An Empty Nest for the Mentally Ill” that talks more about the current state of the treatment of the mentally handicapped than the movie. It’s nice as a PSA, but as a featurette for this movie and boasting a new interview with Michael Douglas it is pretty much worthless.

Mouse over image to compare the DVD image to the Blu-ray version. The DVD image is the first image showing before mousing over.
Photo: Warner Home Video

Beyond what’s available on the disc, what was only a 32-page collectible booklet that was available with the previous Blu-ray release you now get a reproduction of the original press book and a 53-page hard bound book with essays I would suspect expand on what was available on the original release. Finally there are four collectible glossy poster reproductions, a package of six glossy character cards and a deck of playing cards illustrated with the photo of Nicholson you see on the above packaging shot. All of this comes in a solid packaging sleeve keeping it all in one place.

The only true disappointment here is the absence of Nicholson. Why is it big stars so often don’t contribute to the supplemental features from their old works? It’s always producers and the writers and a few of the lesser known stars that offer their time, and as great as that is, it’s the star so many of us want to hear from. It’s an age-old complaint, but it is worth mentioning in case you were expecting to get Jack’s opinion of things.

As for whether or not this is a package for you, I know it’s sometimes a hard decision whether you should upgrade to Blu-ray or not. If you’re interested, you have the choice of buying either this edition or the previous Digi-pack edition, which is actually now out of print though you can find some copies in Amazon’s marketplace for about $15 cheaper than what you’re going to spend on this release.

Personally, I’m frustrated I didn’t already have the 2008 Blu-ray release, for some reason the quality of this film must have slipped my mind back then and I just didn’t jump on it, which means I am extraordinarily happy to own this new edition. It’s a slick piece of packaging that looks great on display, but beyond that it’s simply an excellent film. The choice is obviously up to you, but should you decide this is the set for you, click here to buy it from Amazon.

NOTE: Blu-ray and DVD screen captures were acquired from both DVD Beaver and Blu-ray.com.