One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – Movie Review Example

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest In the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, there was a definite delineation between involuntary and voluntary patients, which is in accordance with Rieghr & Clancy (2010). At one point, it becomes known that virtually all of the main characters in the film – Billy, Dale, Charlie, Martini, Frederickson and Max – are there voluntarily. Even the Chief is apparently there voluntarily. Nurse Ratched tell Randall this when Dale discloses that he, Dale, was there voluntarily. Randall is perplexed at this – he, Randall, would never be there voluntarily, so he cannot understand why anybody would choose to live there. Nurse Ratched also informs Randall that the other patients, the ones who are not really seen the film all that much, are the ones who are there involuntarily. It is the involuntary patients that Randall must convince to vote for altering the schedule so that the patients may watch the World Series. Randall then goes around and tries to get each of these patients to raise their hands.
When Randall goes around to the involuntary patients, in an attempt to get them to raise their hands, it becomes apparent that there is a profound difference between these involuntary patients and the voluntary ones. The major difference is that the involuntary patients do not interact with the other patients, and these patients are the ones who seem to not be in tuned with reality at all. Some of them are in wheelchairs and cannot comprehend Randall when he asks them to raise their hands. Others had apparently been lobotomized, or act as if they have been lobotomized, because they cannot understand what is going on around them. It is unclear whether the Chief was one of the involuntary patients or the voluntary ones, although the assumption is that he, too, is involuntary. The Chief acts like the other involuntary patients through much of the movie, in that he pretends that he cannot understand anybody. However, it soon becomes apparent that, for whatever reason, the Chief was faking, and he really did understand what people were saying. He also was able to talk. In this way, the Chief acts like an involuntary patient, when, underneath, he is more like the voluntary patients.
The voluntary patients, on the other hand, are the ones who are social with one another and can talk in group therapy. They play cards with one another, they joke around with one another, they get angry with one another. They have a party towards the very end of the film, which leads to the climax, in which Randall chokes Nurse Ratched, after she was perceived (rightly) by Randall for being responsible for Billy’s suicide. The voluntary patients also comprises the group who go with Randall on a fishing trip. In other words, the voluntary patients are not as profoundly damaged as the involuntary ones. In fact, with the possible exception of Billy, there is little reason to even understand why they are there. Dale seems the most normal, as he is highly educated and apparently only in the hospital because his wife left him. Charlie and Max seem full of rage, but no more than other people encountered on the street in everyday life. And Martini doesn’t say much, but smiles a lot, but he, too, seems relatively normal. The voluntary patients are those who would blend in with people on the street. The involuntary ones would not. And this is the biggest difference between the two groups.
The way that the patients were treated, by mainly Nurse Ratched, was unreasonable, but not as unreasonable as some might perceive. The fact is, Nurse Ratched had a tough job – she had to control the patients, because, if the patients are out of control, which happens when Randall show up, they end up doing dangerous things. EG – stealing a fishing boat. Any one of those patients could have gotten hurt or drowned on that boat. Also, the patients ended up completely trashing the hospital on the night that they had their Christmas party. While Nurse Ratched’s methods might have been extreme, she was not an entirely unsympathetic character. She cannot literally let the inmates run the asylum, so this is why she hated Randall and why she engaged in a power struggle with him. That said, it seems that some of her methods – namely the method of forcing the patients to speak in group about things that disturbed them, then did not attempt to prevent the conflict that occurred with these revelations, are questionable. This particular method seemed cruel and sadistic. Then again, one might also state that group therapy was meant for getting things out in the open, so this is what she was trying to do. Billy’s suicide was caused by her cruelty, however, and her confronting him with telling his mother was something that did, definitively, cross the line.
The movie also engaged in stereotypes, to a point. That is, the involuntary patients were stereotypical. They were the ones who either talked to themselves, or were incoherent, or would not talk at all. These are the patients who are stereotypical, in that they are the ones who would associate with the mentally ill. The other characters somewhat defied stereotypes – especially Dale. Dale never did act mentally ill. He was intelligent, educated, and well-spoken. He seemed angry at his wife, but did not seem to depressed or have any kind of affect. That said, some of the traits of the others – the outbursts of Max, the childishness of Charlie, the muteness of the Chief – do comport with stereotypes. That said, as noted above, these kinds of people are everywhere in the world, so, in this sense, they did not really seem stereotypically mentally ill.
As for violence, there was only one violent scene, and that was the scene where Randall almost killed Nurse Ratched. He strangled her until her eyes bulged out, and, since she had to wear a neck brace, it is evident that he injured her as well. Aside from this, some characters got emotionally violent – such as Max, who got emotionally violent with Dale, during Dale’s confessional. However, this movie was not focused upon violent behavior, so much as it is focused upon the interaction between the characters.
In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the main characters are voluntary patients who defy stereotypes. This is because most of the characters seem no more insane than people one might meet everyday. Perhaps they have more of a hair-trigger temper than most (Max), or they seem more childish than most (Charlie). As for Dale, there is nothing about him that is any worse than anybody else. Therefore, the movie focused upon the patients who are high functioning, which is important, as these patients are seen interacting, and being led, by Randall. By focusing upon non-stereotypical mental patients, the audience can see a world where people who are just slightly left of center can rebel, and have fun doing it.
Regehr, C. & Glancy, C. (2010) Mental Health Social Practice in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Dir. Milos Foreman. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd. Paramount Pictures.