Movie Moment: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975).

I wrote quite a while ago about how I had always responded very strongly to this movie, well before reading the book, but I recently rewatched it after having gone through the excruciating experience of being impelled to read the book all of a night in September (thanks to a loan from Jonohs), and it reminded me I’ve been collecting screencaps which I’d like to share.

Actually I have dozens more of these, but I think in this edition I want to keep the focus mainly on the question of Mac’s mental state and the conflict between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.


“In one week, I can put a bug so far up her ass, she won’t know whether to shit or wind her wristwatch.”

(I’m pretty sure that all of these particular caps are via One Day, One Movie on the tumblr.)

Did You Know? One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed on location at the State Mental Hospital in scenic Salem, Oregon. I’m not familiar with that particular monkeyhouse, but Ken Kesey was: he based the 1962 book, from which the movie was adapted, on his experiences working as an orderly there, during which time he participated in a study where he was given, among other hallucinogenic compounds, a friendly little fuckstorm of LSD and peyote. Yummy! Your tax dollars at work!


Nurse Ratched: If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.

McMurphy: [to Harding] You’d like it, wouldn’t you? Here, give it to me.


“Is that crazy enough for you? You want me to take a shit on the floor?”

“Hey, baby, where you from?” “I am from 1234 Asylum Street, Room 22.”

The original Oregon State Hospital for the Insane was established by J.C. Hawthorne in what was then East Portland, Oregon, (now the Hawthorne District). It was built in 1862, and the street on which it was built was renamed Asylum Street. Local residents protested about the name, however, and it was renamed Hawthorne after the hospital’s founder in 1888.

The street in Salem on which the current hospital is located, Center Street, was also originally named Asylum Avenue.

Heartwarming. I used to live very close to Hawthorne in Portland. Between you and me, the name change was unnecessary. There is just as much a cacophony of poverty, despair, madcap high spirits, compassionately helpless onlookers, and emotionless venture capitalists as the name “Asylum Street” suggests. An intersection of mixed purposes and emotions.

Droppin’ c-bombs. That Mac!


“Now they’re telling me I’m crazy because I don’t sit there like a goddamn vegetable. Doesn’t make a bit of sense to me. If that’s what being crazy is, then I’m senseless, out of it, gone-down-the-road, whacko — no more, no less, that’s it.”

I have basically scene by scene screencaps but I’ve always felt really strongly about this movie and I’m committed to hoping that everyone goes and watches it for themselves. No spoilers today.


The main difference between the [film and the book] is that the novel is narrated by Chief Bromden, and the reader knows straight away that he [no spoilers].

This was a major source of controversy in developing the screenplay, and eventually the reason why the author, Ken Kesey, was not the final writer. He felt as though the narration of a schizophrenic was an important aspect of the novel, because it produced a hallucinogenic perspective where the reader/viewer is not always sure exactly what is true. (the wiki)

That was my only criticism to Jonohs, I believe, when we discussed the differences between the book and its film adaptation, so now I’m feeling pretty unoriginal.

The end.

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4 Responses to “Movie Moment: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

  1. izaakmak Says:

    I didn’t really take to this movie when I first saw it way back when, but I gave it a second look after spending some time of my own on psychiatric wards. I now have a much deeper appreciation for it! So much so that I started, but never completed, a little ditty about medication vs. meditation:

    It’s Med-i-cation Time
    To help me to unwind
    So I don’t lose my mind
    And end up doing time

    It’s Med-i-tation Time
    To help relieve some stress
    ‘Cause I hate taking meds
    I sure could do with less

    It was funny at the time…🙄

  2. faak Says:

    awesome !!!

  3. Maressa Andrioli Says:

    niice. =))

  4. Jack Says:

    Hi, Yes this was a brilliant movie at the time it was made & in my opinion It still is ! Jack was as always awesome, he was born to play the roll of McMurphy. The movie shone a light on the so called Government instatusions for the mentaly Insane & I do believe that this was instrumental in exposing the practices that tortured simple human beings, by using them as guinie pigs! Llike it was depicted in this movie! Men & women were being insutusionalised for simply having a speech impederment or a stutter. The poor bastad’s had no choice they took the pills or suffered under the hands of so called medical staff that you wouldn’t see fit to look after a rat’s nest! All behind closed doors away from the public eye… All them poor souls & there families. Yes & all for the mighty $ Dollar! That’s right them instutusions made a lot of companies quit wealthy & powerful.. Muti national pharmecutical companys that inturn payed or should I refrase that (donated) large amounts of money to fast track there products so They would be commercialy viable… Should I go on….? No I dont think so…. Hey who the fuck am I ? Nobody & thats the way I like it…… Regards Jack.
    .

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