"One Flew Over the Cickoo's Nest" Film Analysis

Essay by microstuffedHigh School, 11th gradeA-, June 2006

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The opening sequence effectively sets up the isolated mood of the hospital ward through the lone car winding down a long curled road. The landscape is barren and desolate giving the viewer a sense of desperation and futility. The strange but stylized tribal Indian music accompanying the scene also adds to the sense of isolation with its seemingly improvised flute-like melody.

When inside the ward, the music immediately turns into a classical vinyl record. The contrasts between the tribal music and the classical music can be seen to symbolize the difference between the outside natural world and the inside mechanical artificiality. The colour palette also essentially turns into tints of white. There is not much colour and the whole scene again gives a sense of clinical artificiality. The only contrast to the drab whites is the arrival of McMurphy, dressed in a leather jacket and skull cap, starkly juxtaposes both his physical appearance and his character against the dull ward.

Upon entering, McMurphy doesn't just simply walk in, he dances his way into the ward. This immediately shows his free-willed character.

The film follows the narrative of Randle Patrick McMurphy rather than Chief Bromden. The most likely reason the focus was shifted from Bromden to McMurphy is that it would be impractical to present the narrative from the Chief as he is deaf and dumb. It would consist of a lot of voice-overs to convey the Chief's thoughts and excessive use of voice-overs in films is clichéd and ineffective.

The film presents the narrative in a similar order to the novel. McMurphy first arrives in the ward in which he establishes himself as the alpha male. He quickly gains supporters and he liberates the patients from their fears of the Big Nurse. This was marked by the major incident in...