One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ★★★★★

Film Club #2

This is one of my favorite films of all time. It has a magnificent cast all playing wonderful, interesting characters. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and an exciting story that deals with individualism, authoritarianism and freedom. It’s full of powerful scenes that make this one of the most memorable movies ever made.

Something I’ve always found fascinating about this movie is how it deals with the mentally ill. The title of the movie refers to McMurphy, a “normal” guy who goes into a mental institution to avoid hard labor in prison. There, we see him interact with the other patients and try to fit in. The movie shows us the normal sides of the patients and at some points, makes us wonder if they’re actually ill. It makes you wonder what makes a person mentally ill.

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

There’s a scene I like a lot where McMurphy’s first playing cards with the guys and explains how a cigarette is worth a dime. Cheswick tries to bet a dime using two halves of a cigarette. In a way, that should be right, he’s betting a cigarette, but McMurphy tells him that’s not worth anything since the cigarette no longer works. It’s broken.

I believe this is a metaphor to the way we see the mentally ill. They’re the same as us, they’re people, McMurphy knows that, but he also knows they don’t think like us. They’re broken. That’s how we see them, which is wrong. Cheswick can’t see the difference.

McMurphy ends up being the most problematic of the whole group. He steals a bus, he fights the guards, he tries to kill Nurse Ratched, and yet, we know he’s the normal guy. Some would argue however he’s crazier than the other patients. And ultimately, he ends up being truly insane.

Also, maybe I’m overthinking the cigarette thing.

framely liked these reviews