One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Throughout the film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, many changes differentiate the movie from the book. Not only can these differences be seen in the characters of the novel, but also in the series of events that make this story so interesting. In this essay, the significance of these differences will be revealed as well as the reasons for the changes. The first difference between the film and the novel is the narration. In the book, Chief Bromden is the narrator who reveals McMurphy’s story in the mental hospital. Chief is the main character since he is the one who’s life we learn about the most throughout the book.
We learn that he is a paranoid schizophrenic, and a half-breed Indian. We also learn about his family and his past. The movie version erases Chief as the story’s narrator, erases his background story, and makes him a less important character. In the film, Randle Patrick McMurphy is clearly the hero. The reason for this is that if the movie used Chief as the narrator, they would have to include all his background information. These details would most certainly not interest the viewers and would only make the film longer.
Hence, they made McMurphy the main character to save them from writing about the Chief. Many important aspects of the book were eliminated in the film version. Cheswick’s suicide is the most notable one. Cheswick was the first person in the novel to be motivated by McMurphy’s behavior and happy way of life. When McMurphy decided to conform to Nurse Ratched’s wishes and do as he was told, Cheswick felt abandoned and betrayed. Without notice, he ended his life by drowning himself in the pool. This was not the case in the film. Cheswick never commited suicide and was alive throughout the whole movie.
The film does not include this scene because they are trying to make McMurphy seem like a friendly person towards the men on the ward and not just like someone they look up to and fear. In the book, Cheswick killed himself because he saw that his hero has abandoned him for the Nurse’s rules. In the movie, McMurphy remained friends with all his comrads and only paid attention to the Nurse for around 3 days, therefore, there wasn’t a reason for Cheswick to kill himself. The fishing episode is another great difference between the novel and the movie.
In the book, the fishing trip was a planned event that the Nurse kept trying to ruin. Despite her attempts, McMurphy managed to convince Dr. Spivey to join the group when a prostitute named Candy came with only one car. In the movie, McMurphy hijacks a school bus and encourages the other men of his ward to participate in this act of rebellion against Nurse Ratched. Also, the former fisherman, George, was on the fishing trip in the book, but was not at all present in the movie. The fishing trip in the movie was so different from the book because they wanted to show that McMurphy was not conforming to the Nurse’s rules.
Unlike in the movie, Cheswick was not present for the fishing trip since he was dead. We see from this that McMurphy would have normally asked before taking the men on the trip since he was trying to get on her better side. In the film, McMurphy remains the noncomformist person he was, up until his lobotomy. However, in the book, Chief observes McMurphy’s short attempt to conform to Nurse Ratched’s rules. He notices the growing distrust of the other patients towards McMurphy and his increasing sadness as he senses his own doom.
The ending is probably the biggest difference between the novel and the film. The book contains an episode missing from the movie where Chief observes a dog sniffing holes from the hospital window. The dog is then distracted by a flock of geese. It chases the geese towards a road where it is runover by a car. This is the same course that the Chief follows when he escapes from the hospital, leaving the reader unsure of whether the Chief will succeed in the outside world or surrender to a worse fate like the dog, that was killed by mechanization.
However, the movie’s ending shows Chief running from the hospital towards what the viewer assumes to be happiness and freedom. They did this because this scene would also make the movie too long. Since the Chief was not the main character, this episode would be useless for the viewers to see. In conclusion, even though the film exhibits many differences, it still retains the same themes and the same plot. It would have been interesting to know what happened to Chief as he entered the real world. The book, as well as the movie, was amazing.
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