Saturday, 3 December 2011

One flew over the cuckoo's nest

At school we have talked a lot about the idea of deviancy and normality, about what is quirky and what it means to conform. I don't ever remember coming to a conclusion about anything other than perhaps the idea that there must be something wrong mentally with someone when they decide to commit a murder. In discussions on racism the idea of conformity tends to be a really difficult concept for some young minds, yet they themselves are often the ones who wish to follow everyone else and not to stand too far out in a crowd.

So what does it mean to be a deviant? Why is we in society feel that it is okay to suggest that someone is not normal and perhaps needs their behaviours to be corrected? Why is it so difficult for some to accept the idea of mental health issues altogether? Or deal with the person suffering the illness as though they were either stupid or a leper?

For me One flew over a cuckoo's nest was an incredibly interesting concept. A man putting himself into a mental institution for the hope that he would receive an easier ride than what he would get in prison, yet discovers a world where those deemed mentally insane are looked after without any care for actually getting treated. The most revealing scene for me was when it was explained that of the 18 on the ward, perhaps only a third of them were committed with the rest being there voluntarily - why is rehabilitation not playing a larger role than institutionalising them?

The film is brilliant in so many aspects, the acting in particular is astounding - for me perhaps Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito are just awesome. Nicholson is perhaps a little too loose cannon for my liking, although I do like the idea that it may be more to do with trying to blur the boundaries between sane and insane (although I might be reading too much into that!).

I do however agree with Roger Ebert in that there are a couple of points in the film that just don't make sense to me. Why stage a prison break for all of the inmates when the basketball game shows just as much of the characterisation and changing expectations? As Ebert says, "it's an idealised fantasy in a world of realism" and to be it doesn't serve a good enough purpose.

The film is a great movie, it's not my favourite on the list but I can understand why it won Oscars right, left and centre (perhaps not for Nurse Ratched though) and it does definitely deserve to be in the Top100.

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