Legendary film director Milos Forman, known for his work in Academy Award winning films “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus,” has died. The news was confirmed by his manager to NPR
. Forman was 86.
Forman won an Oscar for helming “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” considered by many film critics, historians and film buffs as one of the best films ever made. The film won the so-called “Big Five” categories at academy awards in 1976, winning best director, best picture, best actor for Jack Nicholson, best actress for Louise Fletcher, and best adapter screenplay for Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman.
The film joins “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) as the only three films to achieve such feat. “Cuckoo’s Nest” was later selected by the United States Library of Congress in 1993 for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Nine years after ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’, Forman collected his second best director Oscar award for Amadeus, a fictionalized biography of prolific and influential composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In 1997, Milos Forman had another shot at Academy Award best director trophy when he was nominated for “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” a biographicl drama chronicling 35 years of the life of adult magazine publisher and editor Larry Flynt. Though Forman did not win, the film was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards and nominations.
In spite of all his international acclaim throughout those years, Forman’s biography was not an easy journey. Born in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia (currently known as Czech Republic), the director was an orphan of Nazi Holocaust victims. After living with relatives, he later discovered that his biological father was in fact a survivor of the Holocaust and living in Peru.
He was known primarily as a Czech filmmaker until he moved to America in 1968. His first film in the United States “Taking Off” was a flop and critically panned. It wasn’t until he was hired by producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz to direct “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” that he finally found his footing.
Forman was initially apprehensive about his immigrant background not being able to give justice to the story’s very American sentiments.
But it was precisely that background which provided him unique inspiration.
“To me it was not just literature but real life, the life I lived in Czechoslovakia from my birth in 1932 until 1968. The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not.”