Friday, October 3, 2008

If he's crazy, what does that make you?

I have been pondering about One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest for days. The conclusion I have reached to, is that it is a film that talks about going against the establishment. Aside from R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), most of the patients who reside in the mental institution where the plot takes place, have recruited themselves on a voluntary basis. Yet, they are succumbed to their mental diminishment by rules and hardships imposed by the authority. In the case of the film, imposed by the evil coolness of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). We come to realize late in the film, that all of these men can walk out if they so desire, ask for their privileges and demand better attention. Nevertheless, the supreme power of the doctors and nurses prevents them from this realization and as such, live under Plato’s Cavern, afraid to see the light.

McMurphy serves as the outsider, the one who has seen the light upfront and who leads the rest of the characters to become manifestly uncomfortable with Ratched’s submissive taxations. Yet they can’t defeat her in the end. They’re so powerless that even a demand for cigarettes, the viewing of the 1963 World Series or an illegal booze fest, all initiated by McMurphy, leaves them succumbing to the imposition of the authority. The inevitable ending has even McMurphy losing. Coming to terms with the realization that Ratched has the power to keep him there indefinitely, his rage against her, leaves him powerless and ends up being a vegetable in his own inner self. But he does offer one ray of hope to all the patients.

Chief, a massive Native American, manages to fulfill McMurphy’s dreams and escapes. In his escape, and the way he does it, he offers the other patients the key to break the chains and walking out of the cavern. Whether they do so or not, is unknown to us at the end of the film. Yet, the possibility is raised that authority can be questioned, and that maybe they’ll get the strength to not jump out of a window, or cut their throats with glasses. But rather walk out the front door. The film swept with all five major Academy Awards – picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay– in 1975. And rightly so. BTW, favorite movie character thus far: MARTINI!

Viewer Commentary:

  • Miss Alice: I love Nurse Ratched
  • Rolls: You ARE Nurse Ratched
  • Igor: I don’t see the evilness of Ratched
  • Nina: Duuuude
  • Miss Alice: Mildred Ratched. I love the name Mildred.
  • All: Thud.
  • McMurphy: “That fucking Nurse man”
  • Rolls to Miss A: Ves eso es lo que vamos a decir todos de ti.
  • Igor: I don’t get the title “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
  • Toto: Thud.
  • Igor: I liked Cabaret better
  • Toto: Yeah, it’s time to get over Cabaret.


Miss Alice said...

Jajajaja en mi defensa yo nunca dije que me gustaba el nombre Mildred... Nina dijo que yo tenía cara de Mildred que es muy distinto.

I still don't get why I'm Nurse Ratched... jajaja

Igor Zurimendi said...

"The title is derived from an American children's folk rhyme. [2]

Wire, briar, limber-lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew east, one flew west
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

It loses a bit of the significance it has in the novel, where it is part of a rhyme Chief Bromden remembers from his childhood. This detail was not included in the film, but the line retains its relevance since the story ends with two patients dead from different causes and one who escapes from the hospital."


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