One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest based on the novel by Ken Kesey
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is one of the best films ever made.
It deservedly won the Academy Awards for:
- Best Picture- Michael Douglas and Saul Zaents, Best Actor in a Leading Role- Jack Nicholson, Best Actress in a Leading role- Louise Fletcher, Best Director- Milos Forman, Best Writing- Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman – which means All the important Oscars
- All the major Golden Globes for all the categories above and for the new comer Brad Dourif in a supporting role
- All the most important BAFTAs, which means again all of the above, but without the screenplay prize and with editing awarded instead…
To all that, we need to add so many other prestigious prizes.
The movie is an absolute masterpiece.
The Cuckoo’s Nest from the title refers to the mental institution where most of the important scenes take place.
Jack Nicholson has probably the best performance of his career in the role of Randle McMurphy, who tries to avoid spending time in jail.
He has received a jail sentence, but smart as he is, he figured a way out, by sustaining that he is crazy and arriving at the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Notwithstanding the apparent shrewdness of his move, there are surprises and many frustrations that await the new “patient”.
- Randle McMurphy is one of the most likeable, full of energy, positive, brave, cunning, intrepid, creative, naughty and complex characters in cinema history
Jack Nicholson has been discovered by Robert Evans, who tells this and so many other exciting Hollywood stories in his terribly fascinating book about his years as an actor, producer and then head of Paramount:
- The Kid Stays in the Picture
- If you want to have a good idea about films, Hollywood and the industry you would do well to read this and:
- Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman and Making Movies by Sydney Lumet
McMurphy clashes with Nurse Ratched, the latter being is in control of the ward to which the former is assigned and all the people within it.
She is abusive, domineering, cruel or perhaps just psychopathic.
A psychopath is someone who has no emotions, as Harvard Positive Psychology Professor Tal Ben Shahar puts it.
The psychopath is very well able to exploit the feelings of the others and climb up the social ladder, in most groups.
Nurse Ratched, even if theoretically should listen to what doctors say, in practice calls all the shots and tortures the patients.
Not literally or physically, but mentally, with a determination that drives one of them to suicide and many of the rest to breakdowns.
McMurphy tries to stand up to her and has some victories, after he loses the unfair vote on the viewing of the baseball series.
He even manages a short escape, taking all his colleagues out on the bus that he has high jacked and then on to the ocean
Alas, he has to pay dearly for his courage in an époque when mental patients were “treated „with electric shocks.
When electricity was not “enough”, “doctors” would just recommend and perform lobotomies that rendered the patients vegetative.
Here are some quotes from a magnificent film:
“McMurphy: Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothing but complain about how you can't stand it in this place here and you don't have the guts just to walk out? What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin'? Well you're not! You're not! You're no crazier than the average asshole out walkin' around on the streets and that's it.
Harding: I'm not just talking about my wife, I'm talking about my LIFE, I can't seem to get that through to you. I'm not just talking about one person, I'm talking about everybody. I'm talking about form. I'm talking about content. I'm talking about interrelationships. I'm talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven. Do you understand... FINALLY?”