One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
full title · One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
director · Milos Forman
leading actors/actresses · Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher
supporting actors/actresses · William Redfield, Brad Dourif, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Marya Small, Sydney Lassick, Nathan George, Mwako Cumbuka, William Duell, Delos V. Smith Jr., Dean R. Brooks, Mimi Sarkisian, Vincent Schiavelli, Josip Elic, Peter Brocco, Michael Berryman, Louisa Moritz
type of work · Feature film
genre · Drama
language · English
time and place produced · Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem, Oregon, 1975
date of release · 1975
producers · Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas
setting (time) · 1963
setting (place) · Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem, Oregon
protagonist · Randle P. McMurphy, a rebellious convict sent by a prison work farm to a state mental hospital for evaluation
major conflict · McMurphy struggles against the forces of tyranny, conformity, insanity, evil, and death embodied by his nemesis, the head nurse of the mental hospital, Nurse Ratched.
rising action · Energized by his love for life, McMurphy opposes Nurse Ratched’s control and challenges the system of reality she imposes by coaching the patients to take risks, escaping with them to go fishing, and encouraging them to question authority.
climax · After Nurse Ratched discovers Billy Bibbit in bed with Candy, she makes him feel so ashamed that he commits suicide. McMurphy, upon learning of the suicide, strangles Nurse Ratched until guards take him away.
falling action · Nurse Ratched escalates her efforts to break McMurphy through electroshock treatment, destruction of his disciples, and surgical lobotomy, but the Chief thwarts her by freeing McMurphy’s spirit in an act of mercy killing.
themes · Conformity as a threat to freedom; the contradiction between tyranny and sanity; the sacred nature of the individual
motifs · Obstacles to personal freedom; games; the rebel as savior; hearing as a human connection
symbols · Keys; cigarettes; pornographic playing cards
foreshadowing · McMurphy’s history of assaults; Billy Bibbit’s first suicide attempt; McMurphy’s escape over the fence on the Chief’s back; McMurphy’s zombie walk after electroshock therapy; blood on the starched white uniforms
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