Movies
3:02 pm
Sat May 26, 2012

The Movie Peter Berg's 'Seen A Million Times'

Originally published on Sun June 24, 2012 11:28 am

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen a Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For director Peter Berg, whose credits include Friday Night Lights, Hancock and the new film Battleship — in theaters now — the movie he can't get enough of is Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.


Berg says he first saw the movie when he was about 12 or 13. "My parents, for whatever reason, thought I could handle it," he says, "and Cuckoo's Nest just hit me like a freight train."

The film takes place in the ward of a psych unit ruled by Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher. "Into this world comes this force of life, Jack Nicholson," Berg says. "His natural spirit can't tolerate that system; he goes to war with the system."

That's the freight train part. "It was sort of like, 'F the system,' you know? Even in my young mind at that time, it started landing."

Berg turned 50 this year, and to celebrate, he watched the movie with his 12-year-old son. When it came to Berg's favorite scene, "the fishing boat sequence," his son, too, could handle it.

"He was really into it. He was just laughing and so caught up in the kind of genius magic of the fact that somehow these guys had pulled this off," Berg says.

"That was kind of my favorite birthday. It was just kind of low-key," he says. "We just had dinner and watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest together."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

All summer long, we're asking filmmakers, actors and writers and directors about the movies that have changed their lives, the ones they could watch a million times, including this one from the creator of "Friday Night Lights."

PETER BERG: Hi. My name is Peter Berg. I'm a director. And my most favorite film, the one I watch over and over and can't not watch whenever it's on is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" directed by Milos Forman, starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher.

I first saw the film, gosh, I'm going to say 12 or 13. I'm not great with dates. I was young. I mean, it was kind of by accident. My parents, for whatever reason, thought I could handle it. And "Cuckoo's Nest" just hit me like a freight train. Ninety-eight percent of it takes place in the ward of the psych unit.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

LOUISE FLETCHER: (as Nurse Ratched) Medication time.

BERG: This group of kind of colorful characters inhabit this ward, and the ward is led by this character named Nurse Ratched.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good morning, Nurse Ratched.

FLETCHER: Good morning.

BERG: And into this world comes this force of life, Jack Nicholson. And his character is Randle McMurphy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Randle Patrick McMurphy. What can you tell me about why you have been sent over here?

JACK NICHOLSON: (as Randle McMurphy) I don't know. What's it say there?

BERG: He's in trouble, and so he figures he's going to take the easy way out and pretend that he's crazy, do six months in this cushy mental institution and get out. And it doesn't go that way. He ends up getting very involved and caught up in this system. And his natural spirit can't tolerate that system.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

NICHOLSON: The chief voted now. Will you please turn the television set on?

FLETCHER: Mr. McMurphy, the meeting was adjourned and the vote was closed.

NICHOLSON: The vote was 10 to eight. The chief, he's got his hand up. Look.

FLETCHER: No, Mr. McMurphy. When the meeting was adjourned, the vote was nine to nine.

BERG: He goes to war with the system.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

NICHOLSON: Aw, come on. You're not going to say that now. You're not going to say that now. Now, when the vote - the chief just voted. It was 10 to nine. Now I want that television set turned on right now.

BERG: It was sort of like, eff the system, you know? Even in my young mind at that time, it started landing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

NICHOLSON: Grab the fence here. Right here, Chief. Strong.

BERG: My favorite sequence in that film probably is the fishing boat sequence, from the moment Nicholson escapes, climbs over the fence, shimmies down the tree, steals the bus.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Hey, what the hell's going on here?

BERG: This crazy scene on a fishing boat, that was my favorite scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: What are you doing on this boat?

NICHOLSON: We're going fishing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Not on this boat. You're not going fishing on this boat.

NICHOLSON: We're from the state mental institution. This is Dr. Cheswick, Dr. Taber, Dr. Fredrickson.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: How about you? Who are you?

NICHOLSON: Oh. I'm Dr. McMurphy, R.P. McMurphy.

BERG: Last March, I turned 50. And I showed it to my son, who's 12, and he and I watched it together. And he was really into it. He was just laughing and so caught up in the kind of genius magic of the fact that somehow these guys had pulled this off.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BERG: That was kind of my favorite birthday. You know, it was just very low-key. We just had dinner, and then we watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" together.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: That's director Peter Berg talking about the movie he could watch a million times, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Berg is best known for "Friday Night Lights," both the film and the TV show. His new movie, "Battleship," is in theaters now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.