Ken Kesey’s novel, which had no other such powerful books, was recognized as the bible of the hippie generation.
Hippies believed that modern civilization is evil, it cripples a person, turning him into a miserable, materially preoccupied and soulless tradesman.
That is, it was a book about the freedom of the individual, and it is no coincidence that director Milos Forman took up this novel. He was a fugitive from the socialist camp to the West, and the question of freedom was always painful for him.
Therefore, Foreman flees to America, and shoots a movie in this “citadel of freedoms” that there is no freedom here, and there can be no civilization as long as it is alive.
The meaning of the name “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
The title quotes a fragment of a children’s rhyme that the Indian Bromden heard from his grandmother.
Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes, she’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ’em inna pens… wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock… one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest… O-U-T spells out… goose swoops down and plucks you out.
Viktor Golyshev, translating the novel into Russian, sent one of the geese out of the house and the other into the house to rhyme with the oxymoron “above the cuckoo’s nest.” In the original, one of the geese flew to the east, the other to the west, and the third flew over the cuckoo’s nest – such is the interlinear.
Perhaps, for the director Milos Forman, almost on the eve of the filming of the film, who fled from the socialist East to the capitalist West, this geographical alternative is not just two opposite directions, but also the political aspect of the choice.
Other phrases of the counting rhyme can also serve as a key to deciphering the text of the novel. She’s a good fisherman – it’s clear who the good fisherman is here: the Elder Sister, the ruler of the bodies and souls of patients. Catches hens (catching chickens) – group therapy sessions where patients are forced to divulge their intimate secrets and set against each other by a nurse. Why not cockfights, when, at the sight of a drop of blood, a rooster pounces on the enemy and pecks him in the most painful place.
Why is there a “cuckoo’s nest”, because the cuckoo does not build it? That is why. That which does not exist. In addition, Americans call mental hospitals cuckoo’s nests. To fly over such a place and not land in it is to gain freedom. Which is what the main character tried to do, where he tried to captivate his “comrades-in-arms” in the hospital wards, until he was subjected to a lobotomy.
How terrible is a lobotomy?
The heyday of this brain-crushing procedure came in the 30s of the twentieth century, when the Portuguese Egas Moniz thought of it. This “progressive” doctor made a small hole in the patient’s skull and inserted a wire with a loop through it. He twisted and turned a piece of iron in the brains of the poor fellow, thereby breaking the connections of the frontal lobes of the brain with all other lobes. The process was beautifully called: prefrontal leukotomy. After such a blending of the contents of the skull, the patient became obedient. True, in terms of intelligence it was adequate to a two-year-old child, but it is manageable! Even the sister of President Kennedy underwent a similar beneficial operation. The twenty-year-old young lady was impudent, with the inclinations of a nymphomaniac. After the lobotomy, the mutilated girl moved to a wheelchair – and she lived her long life as a brainless vegetable.
The most interesting thing that Moniz received in 1949 for his discovery … attention, now there will be a drum roll: the Nobel Prize !!! Yes! Relatives of crippled patients have repeatedly raised the issue of depriving the doctor of the award, but where is it … The Nobel Committee does not cancel its decisions.
In our enlightened times, it is believed that lobotomy is a dead end branch of evolution in the field of psychiatry, but once this operation was routine – like blowing your nose. First, fast. Second, it’s easy. The process was further improved by Walter Freeman. The piece of iron was pushed through the eye socket. No holes in the skull. We stirred a little brains – and voila. A helpful, quiet, uncomplaining member of society at your service.
Lobotomy by 1962, when Ken Kesey’s novel was written, had already gone out of fashion and ceased to be a mass operation. However, in the hospital where the film was filmed, the last such surgical intervention took place in 1958, not so far from 1962.
Why writer Ken Kesey never saw the movie
The Creator is a vulnerable being. Well, who will be happy if your idea is taken and twisted. In the book, the whole story is told by a huge representative of the indigenous nationality of the United States, who was seriously mocked at the clinic: 200 sessions of electric shock are no joke to you.
Either a permanent electric shock is the cause, or the voices of the ancestors, but the Indian Bromden considers himself a psychic, penetrating the essence of things. It’s in the book. In the film, Bromden is just a silent mountain with a mop, and the only main character was Randall Patrick McMurphy. Moreover, in the film, McMurphy is a charismatic, friendly, but still criminal and slob, and not the personification of the fiery-haired Christ sacrificing himself to the flock, as in the book.
In the novel, we see everything that happens through the eyes of Bromden. He interprets the hospital as a monstrous Combine, where the all-seeing Big Sister (analogous to the Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia) breaks people one by one, and the “fog machine” covers the sufferers with smoke.
In the film, everything is not so infernal. We see with our own eyes (and not the eyes of an Indian called the Chief) at an ordinary asylum for the mentally ill, where everything is quite tolerable, until punitive measures begin after the attempted murder of Miss Ratchet.
However, Ken Kesey never won a lawsuit against the authors of the film. And was it worth it for him to act according to the principle well known to our public: “I didn’t read it, but I condemn it”? One day, Ken had a chance to watch a movie adaptation when he was flipping through the channels and stumbled upon a movie that was already on. But, realizing what was happening on the screen, the writer immediately turned off the TV.
How director Milos Forman rearranged the accents in the tape
Literature and cinema are different things. Figurative means – from dissimilar arsenals. There is no film adaptation that translates verbal language into visual language with absolute accuracy. An attempt to introduce an off-screen author’s voice into the film adaptation is generally a primitive device, generated by helplessness. Yes, the best movies are based on novels. And there are two reasons why such films immediately fall into the category of popular ones.
- Only novels that have been tested by time and the reader’s reaction are subject to screen adaptations. No one will make a film based on scribble nonsense.
- It is interesting for viewers to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the book again and compare the image formed in their imagination with the image created by the film director and film crew.
“Passion-muzzles” (let’s borrow a good term from Maxim Gorky) that arose in the brain of a not quite adequate Indian, who talks about his stay in a lunatic asylum, revealed a depressing picture of the Combine, suppressing the will of people. The Big Sister is an ugly powerful aunt, a monster that destroys both patients and orderlies right and left. In the film, Miss Ratchet is a neat, pretty lady, a strict, imperturbable professional who performs her duties with excessive zeal.
She sincerely believes that the “carefully thought out order” should not be violated for the sake of some baseball on TV, and that the “crime” of young Billy Bibbit must certainly be reported to her mother.
Who changed communication with McMurphy
Even in the neck brace she wore after McMurphy’s attempt to avenge Billy’s death, Big Sister didn’t change a bit. The Iron Lady remained her.
Billy changed for one night and a few moments of triumph when his buddies applauded him. I even stopped stuttering.
Mac, I will miss you…
“So come with me Billy, let’s go together!”
– No, Mac. I am not ready…
Never again will the unfortunate boy be ready to leave the madhouse, because he passed away, killed by the reinforced concrete principles of the Big Sister – the best friend of his despotic mother, who pushed her son into the “cuckoo’s nest”.
Patients have changed, smelling freedom from Randall, going fishing with a breeze, going to the last party. How long?
Freedom was gained only by Chief Bromden, who broke the window and followed the path once shown by a dead friend.
“I remember doing huge jumps while running, and it seemed to me that it was too long before my foot touched the ground again. I felt like I was flying. Free.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” plot explained
The meaning of Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” lies on the surface. His painting is an allegory for the state as an apparatus of violence and repression. He quotes exactly St. Augustine, who once said: “The state is a human creation, its purpose is temporary, it is created by violence and is maintained by coercion.”
And “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is an allegory for a society that, despite all the efforts and aspirations for freedom, is forced to live in the existing system of complete control of the individual.
The essence of the film is to demonstrate the model of such a society. Each of the characters in the picture personifies the different social roles of people in society. Sister Ratched is the State. More precisely, it is part of the System, which, with the outward appearance of care, governs society through an authoritarian order.
One of the patients, Dale Harding, is a typical man of the system. He lives by her rules and does not accept any changes, because he wants to exist in his comfort zone. He is ready for change, but only as long as the system allows him to do so.
Billy is a typical victim. He is suppressed not only by the state, but also by the environment in the person of his mother. McMurphy for him is an external spokesman for his deepest protest. He could not go beyond the System, he was too weak for that. His attempt ended tragically.
Charlie Cheswick is a weak-willed and weak-willed person, suppressed by the state and relegated to its backyards. The leader, pretending to be deaf and dumb, voluntarily remains within the framework of the System, and remains unnoticed by it. The rest of the inhabitants of the clinic are a typical gray mass, making decisions depending on the circumstances.
McMurphy is a passionate person, ready for decisive action and not wanting to be part of such a system. From the point of view of the System itself, he is a marginal and dangerous element.
The characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest voluntarily accept the rules of the game imposed on them. An attempt to defend their interests comes down to ordinary consumption. Of all the heroes, only the Leader could cross the line.
The main idea of the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” sounds like this: The system is primarily in the head, but it can be broken by knowing the nature of freedom as one of the main principles of human existence.
There is another interpretation of the picture. McMurphy told everyone he wanted to run away, and that’s why he didn’t succeed. The leader, without telling anyone about his plans, at the very end of the film said “I am ready” and, acting on the principle of “Here and now”, left the hospital.
We are talking about excess potential – when you prepare for a long time and really want it, the event does not occur. There is such a psychological trap: talking about his plans, a person gets pleasure, as if he had already done everything he wanted. Therefore, one of the meanings of the film may be in the phrase: “Don’t tell anyone about your plans.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” ending explained
In the stories of the Leader – McMurphy’s newfound friend, it is possible to overlook another bottom, as his night visions, which for an ordinary person may seem crazy, turn into death for Blastik. It is possible that the Leader saw a picture that no one else saw. Since the Leader observed regular childhood memories, another layer of the novel can be revealed – he had to be isolated from ordinary society due to the fact that he was a representative of the indigenous population of America. Where he should serve the reservation – no difference.
The essence of the conflict was laid in the very title of the film, which in the original sounds like “One Flew Over The Cuckoo`s Nest”, where the literal translation could be “One fell out of the nest”. In this way, one could see the whole hidden meaning of the film, because the name itself would already speak for itself that we would meet a certain loner who often clashed with others and refused to leave his own comfort zone.
I hope I helped you find the meaning of the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, as well as understand its ending. If you have a different vision of the film, write your version in the comments.