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Social Realism Film, Movie Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 906

Movie Review

While thrilling, revolutionary, powerful films were still being produced in Hollywood, Milos Forman gave birth to a wonderfully humanistic story “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” adapted for the screen by Ken Kesey’s no less impressing novel of the same name. It has eventually become one of the greatest movies of the 1970s. The part of Randle Patrick McMurphy, insubordinate prisoner of a psychiatric hospital who struggles against the hospital administration’s cold manner of institutional dominance, is performed by Jack Nicholson who seems to be born to personify Kesey’s original character. “Randle McMurphy—big, loud, sexual, dirty, and confident—is an obvious foil for the quiet and repressed Bromden and the sterile and mechanical Nurse Ratched.  His loud, free laughter stuns the other patients, who have grown accustomed to repressed emotions.”[i] The part of Nurse Ratched, middle-aged nurse who operates the establishment where McMurphy is sentenced, is played by Louise Fletcher. “Nurse Ratched is stern, controlling, and determined to quash all resistance to her authority. Nurse Ratched believes in order above all, institutionalizing a systematized reduction of humans to robotic function, with an obliteration of all individual characteristics that might ultimately lead to rebellion”[ii].

The movie plot is a typical anti-institutional story, telling about one man’s finding courage to confront exploitive, oppressive, conventionally applied system’s methods, resolutely maintaining individuality of own personality. “Its allegorical theme is set in the world of an authentic mental hospital (Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon), a place of rebellion exhibited by a energetic, flamboyant, wise-guy anti-hero against the Establishment, institutional authority and status-quo attitudes (personified by the patients’ supervisory nurse)”[iii]. Forman himself once mentioned that the mental hospital was a metaphor for the Soviet Union (embodied as Nurse Ratched) and the yearning to break free. The film has eventually won in all the key nominations at Academy Awards in 1976.

The film is bright indeed. I believe that partially it is due to those unforgettably peculiar faces that Forman inhabits the picture with. The work fulfilled by Forman’s ensemble is evidently performed in such a spontaneous, freshly detailed and naturally impulsive way, that picture sometimes makes an impression of a documentary.  Director uses a lot of close-ups, openly focusing on the faces of the loonies, making each facial expression shockingly realistic. There is a truly impressing moment in the film when McMurphy is receiving electro-shock treatments, – he lies writhing in pain and each convulsion and spasm of his face is shot so closely that you unconsciously start back from the screen.

One of the movie’s greatest accomplishments lies in the cinematography. Milos Forman turns this narrative in great visual form, without actually using many film techniques. His methods of visualizing the novel are presented mostly in colors, images, and sounds that he borrows from the original text. The atmosphere of the psychiatric hospital is communicated perfectly well. The prevailing colors in the movie are grey and white. There are no bright lively colors at all. Practically all the scenes, even those when the ‘prisoners’ go outside, are depressing and lifeless. The lighting in the establishment is the fluorescent of the white-out kind. Every smooth hospital facade is exposed so that the observer can practically feel those hospital fluids coming from the screen. The nurses’ and wards’ appearance also contributes to the overall image of despair. There is a certain symbolism in every character’s clothing. The colors prevailing in clothes are as well blue, grey and white. Nurses’ uniforms are always dressed in a perfectly neat manner. They represent well-organized system and power, and that’s exactly how they look: neat, white and depressing. The patient’s appearance is contrastingly different. They look always messy, wearing ugly and humiliating hospital robes.

The director uses amazingly disillusioning sounds to convey patients’ pain and vulnerability to the audience. The most frequently happening noises are either silence, or the sound of the television, or the hospital inmates’ illegible screams expressing pain, fear, aggressiveness and panic. One of inmates never stops moaning how tired he is, while others are permanently stammering and vocalizing weird sounds. Unsystematic cries echo throughout the halls. The echo communicates the hospital’s mood of worthlessness and solitude creating also a feeling of large empty spaces. Feels like the halls are infinite and escape from this institution is impossible. Patience seem to be trapped in their own madness by the depressing atmosphere of the place, so depressing that you start to forget there is a normal world behind those shiningly clean bear inaccessible walls. The film is masterly performed, making each viewer experience the pain and despair of the patients like if the whole place is real.

Even though being produced at the 1970s, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” still remains as up-to-date as ever. It hasn’t dated even a little, since it tells about the human nature which never changes. Forman captures such qualities of human personality as audacity, playfulness, encouragement, insight, pride, obstinacy, that are universal and ageless. He tells about the never-ending resistance to personality suppression.

[i] Selena Ward and Alexa Gutheil, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” SparkNote, 17 Apr. 2009 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/cuckoo/>.

[ii] Selena Ward and Alexa Gutheil, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” SparkNote, 17 Apr. 2009 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/cuckoo/>.

[iii] Tim Dirks, “One flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest (1975),” Greatest Films, 17 Apr. 2009 < http://www.filmsite.org/onef2.html >.

Works Cited

Ward, Selena and Gutheil, Alexa. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” SparkNote. 17 Apr. 2009. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/cuckoo/>.

Dirks, Tim. “One flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest (1975).” Greatest Films. 17 Apr. 2009. <http://www.filmsite.org/onef2.html >.

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