Essays On One Flew Over The Cuckoo'S Nest
Though the film of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest keeps with the original novel, re-creating many of it’s same themes and motifs, the filmed differs from Ken Kesey’s actual book in several significant ways. Through the books point of view, readers are actively engaged in every part of Chief Bromden’s—our protagonist—story, as though he is the hero—even though McMurphy, another main character, is most prevalent—because the book revolves around him. Yet in the film, Chief is thrown to the side, his background story forgotten as though he is still important, he becomes a secondary character to McMurphy, who is set up as the hero. Scene selection in a film can place emphasis where is was not previously, change the villain to the hero, or change every part of what it is being adapted from. In Cuckoo’s nest, there are a few significant scenes that appearing in the novel, yet not the film. As important as scene selection is, small details can sometime make or break both film and novel. One last point is the way characters behave, which changes—at times drastically differing—in the novel and in the film. Both the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the original novel are masterpieces, However, even though they are the same story, there are different things that can change the way characters, setting, and plot is perceived.
The first difference between the film and the novel I will talk about is the story’s point of view. In the novel, Chief Bromden is the narrator, and in being that, depicts a power struggle between Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, another main character, for the duration of the book. Chief arguably is the novel’s hero; undergoing an immense amount of changes in speech, mannerism, and more; he goes from being a scared mute, to a confident, talking individual. When describing the mental institution and all that occurs inside the walls, Chief tells his own personal story through biographical information of his own childhood, before his institutionalization. Through these details, readers learn that Chief had schizophrenia, he is a war veteran, and he is half White, half Indian, and grew up in a tribe. In the filmed version, the story disregards Chief as the story’s narrator, discarding all of the background content on Chief, and turns him into a somewhat important, secondary character to McMurphy, who is made out as the hero of the film.
In addition to point of view, scene selection is equally as important in shaping a story, how it’s viewed and thought about. In the book, some of the most important scenes detail Chief Bromden being consumed by fog, and all that it simulates. In the film, the delusional episodes that the fog causes Chief to have, the ones in which he witnesses the inner workings of the Combine, are eliminated in favor of scenes written to push the reader towards McMurphy by expanding on his character and background. Another way the film differs with scene selection is the suicide of Cheswick, one of the most notable. Cheswick’s character was the first individual in the novel to be punished for going along with McMurphy’s antics. When McMurphy decides to “toe the line”—conform to Nurse Ratched’s rules, and let her control him—it is after hearing that the length of their mutual confinements is entirely at the discretion of Nurse Ratched. Upon discovering McMurphy’s decision, Cheswick, feeling abandoned and betrayed, drowns himself. Another sequence in the film that differs greatly from the novel is the fishing episode. Despite many attempts at sabotage by Nurse Ratched, McMurphy convinces Doctor Spivey to join the group when the alluring, promiscuous Candy arrives with only one car. In the film, McMurphy hijacks an institutional bus and proceeds to instruct the participants on the fishing trip to participate in an “act of rebellion”. As a result, the scene at the gas station, when McMurphy confronts the surly and abusive attendants, temporarily empowers the patients, and Doctor Spivey is not depicted.
Also missing from the film are key symbolic elements. For example, in the book, McMurphy has a poker-hand tattoo that foreshadows his death. The tattoo depicts aces and eights, known as the dead-man’s hand in accordance to the legend of the poker hand held by Wild Bill when he was murdered. In the film, he is as clean as a whistle—tattoo wise. In the film, McMurphy boasts that he was conned into statutory rape by a teenaged girl who lied about her age. ‘But Doc, she was fifteen years old, going on thirty-five, Doc, and, uh, she told me she was eighteen and she was, uh, very willing, you know what I mean,’ Nicholson’s McMurphy asserts. ‘I practically had to take to sewin’ my pants shut. But, uh between you and me, uh, she might have been fifteen, but when you get that little red beaver right up there in front of ya, I don’t think it’s crazy at all now and I don’t think you do either. No man alive could resist that, and that’s why I got into jail to begin with. And now they’re telling me I’m crazy over here because I don’t sit there like a goddamn vegetable. Don’t make a bit of sense to me. If that’s what’s bein’ crazy is, then I’m senseless, out of it, gone-down-the-road, wacko. But no more, no less, that’s it.” In the novel, McMurphy’s boasts of being seduced are not excited, proud moments, they are relayed with a sense of false pride and world-weariness. And in the novel, his original arrest isn’t for statutory rape, it’s for being ‘a guy who fights too much and fucks too much.’
As Ray Bradbury once said, “Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage. ” In his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey depicts this arbitrary line between sane and insane. By elucidating the oppressive role of the mental institution and portraying its patients as more eccentric than […]
‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ obviously possess a myriad of differences. Burgess’ work depicts a bizarre surrealist vision of the future, where milk is laced with LSD and ‘ultraviolence’ is the favourite pastime of the disaffected youth, whereas Kesey’s novel portrays a contemporary (but still dysfunctional) society within our own. […]
One of the most influential films in our lifetime is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It demonstrates many themes with one of the most important being on how institutions are governed and kept in order through the use of power. The best way to analyze this concept in this film, is to interpret Michel […]