Friday, December 18, 2009

Movie Reflections: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

It is by pure chance that I managed to watch this show in Bali. Was supposed to watch this film for some pre-training program but couldn't get my hands on it before I left for my holidays.  It just so happens that the villa which my family were staying in had this title in their DVD collection! And so I watched it in Bali.

It is only after watching the show, did I realise this is a multiple Academy Award winner. This show is a adaptation of the same titled novel by Ken Kesey. 

This post is meant as a reflection rather than a review. For reviews, please google/yahoo/ping/whatever for the film title and there will be umpteen search results.

Nurse Ratched

It is tough to fathom the ultimate objective of Nurse Ratched's employment in the ward. It is easy to generalise that she wants the best for the patients but her actions speaks otherwise.  It is as though she wants to keep the absolute power and control over the ward, the patients (and the doctor). She has her own way of doing things and do not tolerate any changes to the "well thought-out routine".

In her many battles with McMurphy, she shown great flexibility in the verbal sparring and will always regain the authority and control of the setting. However her stubborness (or fear of loss of control) and lack of flexibility is starkly exhibited whenever a change of the routine is proposed, which is why I am suspicious of her intentions. You may argue that she has a well-formed outcome in mind (to maintain absolute control) and thus will not deviate or tolerate anything that will topple it.

I thought Ratched's lack of sensory acuity is the direct cause of Billy's death.  She did not notice the total change in Billy after his adventures with Candy and solely focused on her anger.

Take away: Be flexible, what works then may not work now. And always know what you want.


The main man in the story.  He showed tremendous ability in establishing rapport with the group in his ward, not showing any prejudice, even though some of them may be too (mentally) sick to understand him. The turning point had to be during the 2nd vote for the World Series to be shown on TV where he gained majority of the votes.

After he realised that the other male patients are more institutionalised than they are focused on becoming functional to face the outside world, he embarks on the road to help them, which brought on the many battles with Ratched. He showed great creativity (and a total disregard of the rules of the institution) and did things that were not usually done in the ward.  The activities sort of liberalised and energised the whole setting and the patients start to come out of the shells that they had been hiding in. (which Ratched didn't like and thought it was a disruption to the program.)

McMurphy got the rest of the patients excited when he claims that he could lift the stone fountain. When he failed and walked away with "Why? At least I tried.", to me, is the point where he won over many of his ward-mates and the little nudge that makes them agree to tag along with McMurphy with his crazy plans.

Takeawy: Do whatever it takes. Do not limit yourself to the 'rules' set by others or the environment.

Bromden (Chief)

Bromden acted deaf and dumb for decades to avoid attention. It can be inferred that he did not agree or like the way the ward is ran but chose to accept it rather than to take actions against it. The actions of McMurphy liberalised him and convinced him that he needs to stand by for what he believed in and go for his dreams (to go back to his homeland in Canada.) 

McMurphy made Bromden believe in himself, visualised the goal of "riding the plains" together in Canada and gave him a new leash of life.  

After McMurphy was lobotomised and (probably) will not recover back to his normal self again, Bromden decided to free McMurphy for his suffering rather than let McMurphy remain in his state.  It was also the final push for him to execute the plans to escape and to realise his dream of returning home.

Take-away: To feel big all the time. You have got whatever you need inside you. You just need to know how to access it.

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