In Milos Forman, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, criminal Randle McMurphy has been serving a short prison term for statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl at a prison that requires hard labor. McMurphy thinks he has the upper hand on the law by calling himself mentally ill to avoid the hard labor and serve the rest of his sentence in a mental hospital.
The ward of the mental institution is run by a stern passive aggressive nurse named Nurse Ratched who uses her authority and intimidation to control all the patients in the mental hospital. Throughout his stay at the hospital, McMurphy becomes friends with other fellow patients but creates strong relationships with two people; Billy Bibbit and Chief Bromden. Billy is a young guy around his 20s but acts very naive and is a victim of Nurse Ratched who threatens to tell everything he does to his mother whom he is afraid of. On the other hand, Chief Bromden is a seven-foot-tall native American who cannot speak or hear, but is respected by the rest of the patients because of his sheer size and presence. At first McMurphy makes fun of the chief by saying jokes but later uses the Chief’s size to his advantage in a game of basketball in the court yard. Later when McMurphy sees how obedient and scared the patients are to Ratched’s control, he tries to undermine her authority as much as possible.
At a group counseling session, McMurphy proposes that the ward’s work schedule be altered so that the patients can watch the World Series on television. Ratched denies his proposition and explains that it would throw everybody’s schedules off and then proposes a vote to which he loses. When the 1st meeting comes to an end, Mac takes wagers on whether he can lift the ward’s marble hose sprayer and throw it through a window to escape and watch The World Series at a bar. He fails, but puts in extreme effort and tells the guys that at least he tried, unlike them. The next discussion over changing the work detail at the next meeting quickly becomes a fight when Ratched announces that a majority vote will be acceptable. Ratched then cheats when she realizes that the vote may go McMurphy’s way, stating that votes must be taken from the Chronic and Vegetable patients and during the meeting time. When the vote doesn’t in favor of McMurphy, he begins to imagine the game is on TV and rallies most of the other patients behind him, causing a loud scene and upsets Nurse Ratched. Later McMurphy leads the patients in a basketball game against the ward’s workers.
Chief Bromden is the star player for McMurphy’s team by scoring all the points and holding the net so the ward workers ball cannot go through. After the game the patients relax in the hospital pool and McMurphy finds out, from a worker that he played basketball against, that he won’t be released at the end of his prison sentence, but will stay in the hospital until Nurse Ratched feels that he is in good mental health. At another meeting by Ratched, Murphy discovers that many of the patients in the ward are there voluntarily and that they can leave any time they want to but due to Ratched’s authority, they are afraid to leave. McMurphy is very upset that his friend Billy remains on the ward voluntarily when he could be free and enjoying his young life, driving convertibles and staying with young girls. The meeting quickly ends in violence when the subject of Ratched’s cigarette rationing is brought up by an upset patient named Charlie Cheswick.
A fight breaks out with the workers and McMurphy, when the workers start beating on McMurphy, Chief Bromden steps in the fight to help McMurphy. More workers come to control the fight and all three of them are sent to a detention area where they get electricity painfully conducted on them. Cheswick is sent first, while McMurphy and Chief wait on the bench and McMurphy offers Chief a piece of gum, and Chief says “thank you”. This is when McMurphy realizes that Chief can actually speak and has been faking his disability the whole time. McMurphy then starts telling Chief his escape plan and how Chief can help and leave with him. The time has come for the escape, McMurphy sneaks two women friends into the ward and bribes the night guard with money and alcohol.
After a night of partying, McMurphy and Chief invite Billy to escape with them, but Billy is not ready to leave the hospital and instead McMurphy convinces him to have sex with one of his friends. Ratched arrives in the morning to find the ward trashed and most of the patients still passed out drunk. She finds Billy and the women together and when Billy starts talking he doesn’t have a stutter, until Ratched threatens to tell his mom about his wild night. Billy is overwhelmed with fear and locks himself in a room where he sadly commits suicide. McMurphy is livid and chokes Nurse Ratched, before being knocked out by the other workers.
(incomplete summary). The most compelling character in this movie was Chief because the mystery behind his character not being able to speak or hear anything and then huge surprise that he could speak and hear the entire time he was at the mental hospital. Chief also stood out to me because of his sheer size and ethnicity of being of native American decent. The part of his performance that grabbed my attention was when the fight broke out in the ward over the rationed cigarettes and McMurphy was being brutally beaten by the workers, but then in came Chief to save McMurphy.
This symbolized the friendship that McMurphy and Chief had all along even though they hadn’t communicated the entire time. The majority of the scenes of Chief were long shots so that the camera could include his whole body in the scene and show his size compared to everyone else. An example of this shot was during the basketball game against the workers, where Chief could dunk the basketball and also grab the net to not allow the other team to score.