The Characters of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in Film and Novel Essay

The Characters of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in Film and Novel Essay

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The Characters of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in Film and Novel

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a critically acclaimed novel written by Ken Kesey and later on a movie adaptation, directed by Milos Forman, which was similarly critically acclaimed earning itself an extremely high 96% on rotten tomatoes. However said appraisal of both works, does not excuse the gleaming errors and artistic licensing seen throughout the entirety of the film. Granted there were no major plot holes and alterations present, the physical descriptions of the various characters within the story as well as their behavior differed quite a bit from their silver screen counterparts. The most critical physical and behavioral differences can be seen quite clearly when comparing the book versions of Nurse Ratched, Randal McMurphy and the ward patients of the mental institute.

The main antagonist of the novel(and film) Nurse Ratched is portrayed as the main villain throughout the entirety of both works. Her over towering presence and micromanaging abilities of the ward and the lives of those associated with it are at odds with her rather more feminine body. Kesey, through the narration provided by Bromden, offers us the audience a mental image of an unrealistically proportioned woman who was continuously angered and disappointed at the world around her, making her bitter and “depressed”. The nurse is described as a woman whose bitterness is hidden behind a mask described as one that is “smiling and calm and cold.” (Kesey p. 5). This is also where the film had its first deviation from the source material: In the film, rather than being controlled by an evil machine, Nurse Ratched is shown as the ultimate authority-wielding bureaucrat. Director Forman under...


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...arious versions of the same, typical mental patient. In this universe the film I set in, each patient is represented the same way and in the same group, Creating less detail and less investment for audience within the characters as compared to the novel.
In many ways the changes that were made by Forman were there in order to help deliver comedic relief in an otherwise dreary and bleak film. Further more Forman also created “labels” for the character within the film in order for the audience to rally and identify with the characters more. Ranging from the childish demeanors of the ward members, to the more classically evil and dastardly Nurse Ratched. Nevertheless One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a masterpiece with understandable and justifiable changes, done through a simple analysis of the audience, enhanced the plotline without eliminating anything critical.



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