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Movie Analysis: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - Essay Example

Much of the film revolves around the theme of madness, and the harmful influence that institutions can bring to bear on vulnerable individuals. An important secondary theme is the very noticeable tension between male and female genders that runs through the plot. This tension seems to reflect the rise of feminism in the 1960s and the way it was received in American society of that time, showing how some men react with violence and hatred when they perceive a change to the patriarchal order that allows women to assume authority over men. The first indication of this theme emerges in the initial clash of personalities between McMurphy and the head nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher). The contrast between these two main characters could hardly be greater. McMurphy is tall, rather badly groomed, and wearing a dark leather jacket and informal cap, while Nurse Ratched is petite and stern, wearing a starched white uniform which is always impeccably clean and tidy. She rules the ward very strictly, and commands a team of orderlies, also dressed all in white, with formal bow ties to accentuate their official role in the clinical hospital setting. These two actors, Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, play their roles in a fascinating mix of traditional and modern gender roles. McMurphy is loud, obnoxious and prone to violent outbursts, while Nurse Ratched is calm, and speaks quietly as women are expected to do. On the other hand, Jack Nicholson portrays some extreme emotions, and his facial expressions extend from rage and fury at one moment to pity and understanding at the next one. He does have a soft and “feminine” side but he hides it and resorts to violence instead of reasoning his way out of a situation. Louise Fletcher uses body language to give the character of Nurse Ratched a sinister edge. She stands very erect, often with her hands placed on her hips, or clutching a clip board, and turns her head slowly from side to side as if surveying the room in a smooth, machine-like sweep. She often has a fixed and glassy stare, except for rare moments when she seems to smile at McMurphy in a condescending or even mocking way. This de-humanizes her somewhat, and though she is an attractive woman, she has an aura of evil about her. McMurphy upsets the daily routine by objecting to the way that the television is muted, and he starts providing a commentary to the sports scene that is shown on the screen. This causes the patients to gather round and begin to join in, laughing and cheering in a display of collective joy. Until McMurphy came along, the patients, who are all male, had accepted the strict rules without question. Now that he is here, they begin to follow his anarchic spirit, and this brings all of them into a collision course with Nurse Ratched. Most of the characters in the film are male, including a lonely and silent indigenous American who is called “the Chief” and a young man with the ridiculous name “Billy Bibbit.” The story behind each man is gradually revealed throughout the film. Billy in particular has major issues in his relationship with his mother. She is a large, loud, and very dominant person, who will not allow Billy to grow up and be a man in a normal way, but instead mocks at and terrorizes him. McMurphy, on the other hand, plays the role of elder brother to Billy, and organizes for him to have his first sexual experience. McMurphy manages to break ...Show more
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Summary

Movie Analysis: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest The movie entitled One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman) tells the story of a man called McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) who is brought into a closed ward in a mental asylum after committing a violent offence against a 15 year old girl…
Movie Analysis: One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest
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