One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Review

a) Charismatic Leader: McMurphy shows characteristics of a charismatic leader in various ways. McMurphy is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation after he had been convicted of statutory rape. When McMurphy gets to the institution, he feels as the institution is very supressed and has a strict regimen that everyone is expected to follow. Unpleasant medical treatments are used to supress the patients. When McMurphy sees this, he realizes that the environment needs to be lightened up and the patients should be treated like real people.
He becomes a leader to several patients at the institution teaching them how to have fun and enjoy themselves in an environment that doesn’t allow them to do so. McMurphy convinces his friends to enjoy themselves by playing cards, breaking out of their shell, and watch baseball games. The patients follow his footsteps and hope to be like him as he displays such charisma that people want to conform and have the confidence he has. This example is evident when the patients are sent up for shock therapy which many patients are afraid of.
McMurphy goes up for the treatment and comes back down assuring the patients that the therapy has only charged him up for the next women he will be with. McMurphy also challenges Mildred to change the ward policy which furiates her as no other patient has ever had the courage to. b) Alienation/Outsiders: The patients within the mental institution are alienated from the outside world. They are considered the people who are looking from the outside in. The Institutions head Nurse Mildred treats the patients in a harsh manner, not as If they were people.

These people haven’t experienced life to their fullest due to where they are but they still want to enjoy their life. When they look outside they realize the world has much to offer but they are alienated by being contained within the facility. They are also not allowed many visitors which is essentially alienating them from the outside world. c) Rebellion against social norms: When McMurphy realizes what he has gotten himself into as well as seeing his fellow patients he decides to rebel the social norms within the facility. The patients begin to drink, lay cards and bet cigarettes which Nurse Mildred gets furious, evident when she confiscates the cigarettes and rations them out. McMurphy also steals the hospital bus and gathers his friends to pick up a party girl.
The group also parties one night sneaking in two female visitors with alcohol and enjoy the night away even though McMurphy has a plan of escaping which fails as he is drunk and fatigued. One of the patients even loses his virginity within the facility which is frowned upon. The rebellious attitude gets the patients into a lot of trouble especially McMurphy as the patients were “well-behaved” but now are not. ) Changing Group Dynamics: Before McMurphy arrived, the group of patients who were previously present were very “well-behaved” as Nurse Mildred would say. They followed rules and strict regimen that was provided without questioning anything. They took any punishment and also agreed to unusual medical treatments that were said to help the patients even though they were just a method to suppress them. The patients were very unhappy but just followed the orders that were given as no one had the courage to stand-up.
When McMurphy came along, with his Charismatic and daring personality, the patients wanted to conform and be more like him so that they could live their life to the fullest while being contained within a facility. The patients forgot what life was like outside the facility but when McMurphy came along he proved that life could be lived the way you wanted to no matter where you are. e) Authority’s response to rebellion: Nurse Mildred tried to contain the rebellious behaviour by increasing the unusual treatment like shock and hydro therapy.
She confiscates cigarettes and does not allow freedom to the patients. When patient Billy is found with a girl in a room within the facility she threatens to tell his mother, using the method of embarrassing the patient so he will regret what he has done and straighten up and refuse to rebel but unfortunately Billy takes his own life. She tightens her grip on the group and has “humiliation sessions” which furiates many patients but they don’t defend themselves. After a thorough examination of various facilities, I have come to the onclusion that many of these facilities treat their patients in a harsh manner which is completely unnecessary as it may stall the improvement of their current mental state. Mental institutions are meant to aid patients positively and help them become better physically and mentally. As an advocate to reform mental institutions, I propose changing various methods of treatments used on patients as well as the atmosphere they are treated in, to help the patient becoming better rather than worse. The first change I propose is changing the decor of the building.
Patients come to the institution to get better. It is proven that visuals and colours affect moods. By changing decor and colours we can make the institution visually seem like a positive atmosphere rather than a dingy one. The second change I would propose is the change in attitude amongst the workers. In the film the staff was shown as a strict, very harsh group. The attitude greatly affects the people you work with and how they respond to you. In the movie the patients were very fearful and quiet due to the intense rules and regulations.
As a staff it would be appropriate to make patients to feel at home as they might be staying at the institution for a while. Exuding positive behaviour will change the atmosphere itself. Patients with mental health issues need the positivity around them to get better as well as feel comfortable with being themselves. The third idea I would like to propose is that staff is not allowed to conduct unnecessary treatments to supress the patients just so they will behave. This stalls the improvement in health and just causes fear amongst patients. As said before mental institutions are supposed to aid patients not make them worse.
And absolutely NO LOBOTOMY! This is a very serious matter and it will not be tolerated. If a patient is to show rowdy behaviour, he shall be placed in a room alone to think about his actions and if unable to do so they will be given medication so they do not pose a threat to anyone else within the facility. The fourth idea I would like to propose is that, the patients should be allowed visitations and also be allowed to go out. Staying in one place can cause a person to become depressed and feel lonely. This can also provoke thoughts of escaping as seen within the movie.
Exploring the outside world and enjoying the world as a human being will allow the patient to feel that they are not contained but are very much like normal human beings. The Last idea I would like to propose is allow “free days”. Free days allow patients to enjoy themselves such as smoke, drink and party within the facility. A designated room with supervision would allow the patients to enjoy themselves with food, music, drinks. Having these ideas would help the facility work smoothly as possible, with barely any acts of rebelling and any serious issues.
The movie could act as an agent of social change and reform as the movie excellently portrays what can happen when patients are in a supressed environment. Patients are people and they have all the rights that people outside the institution do. By watching this movie people can see how such repression can cause patients to act out and this can be used as a precautionary device to see what can be changed in mental health institutions to make them better. Mental institutions can make note on the staff and how facility works and instead of using it as a guide, they can make the institution better.
Nurse Mildred and her staff are very strict which doesn’t help the patients if they reformed to a kinder, gentler approach to patients with a positive attitude will help their institution for the best. Personally I enjoyed watching the movie as it displayed the hard truth about some institutions and it made it evident that the institution that was portrayed is in fact a very much part of reality. Many institutions during that period of time or even today may be like that which is very sad. Personally I love Jack Nicholson and his portrayal of the character of McMurphy was very convincing.
Nicholson, a charming persona on his own, made the character McMurphy very lovable and understanding even though the crime he was convicted of in the beginning may beg to differ. The charisma Nicholson displayed made it evident why he was chosen to play McMurphy. I felt as he was a very relatable character as a charismatic leader. The portrayal of Nurse Mildred Ratched was also very good. The intense, raw persona portrayed by Louise Fletcher made her seem like in reality she was indeed the same person as Mildred.
The intensity between McMurphy and Ratched was totally believable. As for the story, I felt like it was very touching. An individual trying to help others realize their own potential and enjoy themselves within a contained environment with mishaps along the way just depicts the reality of life and friendship. McMurphy realized and felt the fear amongst his colleagues and decided it was time for change. With his rebellious ideas, attitudes and actions he captivates the hearts of his friends and viewers making them want to be more like him; outgoing and courageous.
Although the ending is very sad resulting in the death of McMurphy after having a lobotomy, he leaves his legacy, showing the other patients that there is not point of being afraid, life is too short so you must enjoy it to the fullest not matter where you are. I felt like many characters could have been more evident in the movie such as Martini, portrayed by Danny DeVito, an amazing actor who shouldn’t have been limited to his talents. I felt as if most characters were not memorable such as Martini, which is sad as I love Danny DeVito. The Characters beside McMurphy that were evident were Billy and Chief.
Chief was only evident because he was a fairly larger man then the rest of the group and also of different ethnicity. He was also the one who put McMurphy out of his misery after McMurphy had received a lobotomy. Billy only became evident to me personally, after he had sex with Candy and he killed himself. Other than that I had not paid much attention to his character. In the film’s defense I would say yes that the attention was mainly on McMurphy, but I was hoping for more from the secondary characters seeing how each one as an individual conformed rather than as a whole group.

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