One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest discussion


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Book v. Movie

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message 1: by Muffin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Muffin I really like them both, and think that they each stand alone as great works. Does anybody prefer one over the other?


message 2: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katie I agree. It's not often that I love a movie and a book equally. I sort of wish I had read the book first, though, as I kept picturing Jack Nicholson and Lousie Fletcher while I was reading. Every time she spoke in the book, I could hear Louise Fletcher and I saw the movie yeras ago! That's how lasting the impact was of the movie.


message 3: by JoAnn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JoAnn I wish I read the book first as well since I, too, kept thinking of Jack Nicholson. Normally I like the books over their movie counterpart but in this case they both really can stand as their own.


message 4: by Patricia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patricia Ken Kesey was upset that Bromden did not narrate in the movie, and I agree with him. It would have changed the movie a lot to have him narrating, but the perspective shift really changes things. The scene with McMurphy trying to lift the water console was excellent however, as was the electro-shock therapy scene.


message 5: by Tamara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tamara The book was so surreal and poetic, the movie so literal. The book sticks pretty close to the story, and gets the characters right, but the movie's just a great movie, whereas the book is mind-blowing. The book is so stylistically creative, the movie just doesn't compare. Even though i like it a lot


message 6: by Patricia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patricia I agree. Seeing the story through Bromden's eyes made you constantly question what was real and what was fake. You were taken into an abstract world, and sort of digging through it with him. "Literal" is a good word to describe the movie.


message 7: by kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

kate this book was so powerful for me I still have not seen the movie because I don't want to experience it again. really good book.


Miguel I've read the book over and over again as well as watched the movie. Now I'm reading a forword verison by Chuck Palahniuk with these wicked illustrations. I always seem to watch the movie when I'm just looking for some down time and it actually helps me focus on my perspective on life, when I start to become 'too normal or not cuckoo enough.


TheDenizen Nicholson is a good actor, but he was a terrible casting choice for Randle McMurphy. Jack is physically nothing like the character described by Kesey. Kesey himself disliked the film and had wanted to cast Gene Hackman in the lead role. Hackman would've been a much better choice IMO. The movie is still a darn good one, though, largely due to Milos Forman's masterful direction.


Jason Lilly I love books that have an unreliable narrator. I also love books (The Great Gatsby for example) where the narrator is not the protagonist, or hero, of the book. I think that just could not be depicted accurately on film. But the movie was fun, very much a product of its time, and Jack is always fun to watch.


Michael I enjoyed both, but would certainly agree they were very different. I think McMurphy had more depth in the novel, Nicholson played him more for exuberant laughs in the movie version.


message 12: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV It's the vivid descriptions from Chief's point of view that make the book better than the film.

Perfect example: "Out along the dim six-o'clock street, I saw leafless trees standing, striking the sidewalk there like wooden lightning, concrete split apart where they hit, all in a fenced-in ring. An iron line of pickets stuck out of the ground along the front of a tangleweed yard, and on back was a big frame house with a porch, leaning a rickety shoulder hard into the wind so's not to be sent tumbling away a couple of blocks like an empty cardboard grocery box. The wind was blowing a few drops of rain, and I saw the house had its eyes clenched shut and locks at the door banged on a chain."


Aracely Lopez I loved the book! It's one of my favorites of all time. Honestly I haven't seen the entire movie, but I did see some video clips of it on youtube, and so far I was pretty bored by it. I just prefer to stick to the book. I really don't mind not having the oppurtunity to watch the movie.


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna IS IT WORTHY OF READING??????


message 15: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Oh, most definitely.


allbooksnoheart I enjoyed both, but I do agree with what others have said- the feel of both is highly different- mostly really due to the complications of having a silent narrator in the book. I understand why they didn't do that to make the film, but as others have said the result is the focus shifts and stylistically makes it almost like another story. I read the book first and as much as I think the film good I prefer the book. The scene about Harding and the rabbits has remained in my heard for years afterwards, and the 'fog' moments too.


message 17: by JG (new) - rated it 4 stars

JG Review If I remember correctly, the film ended differently to the book, I preferred the book ending. I watched the film at a cinema, greatest performance of Nicholson's career, I think. If you've read the book watch the film then decide, you shouldn't be disappointed, I hope.


George The book was much too "politically incorrect" for Hollywood to accurately portray. Unlike the movie, all the "black boys" (as discribed by the narrator Chief Bromden in the book)were Nurse Ratched's cruel enforcers -- and not sympathetic charactors at all. It's interesting that in the book the only kind and sympathetic nurse was Asian. The book -- not the movie -- can take on many levels of meaning...


message 19: by Will (last edited Nov 11, 2011 02:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Plus, Cheif's descriptions of even mundane events are breathtaking.


message 20: by Erik (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erik Rodgers Great movie, but the book is really superior. I think they were smart to change the approach in the film, as the narrative experience of the book would have been too hard to convincingly bring to screen. This is often the challenge in bringing a great novel to screen, I think, because great film and great novels rely on different narrative mechanisms.

In the end, the film captures the spirit of the book, which is a significant achievement in itself.


message 21: by Erik (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erik Rodgers JG wrote: "If I remember correctly, the film ended differently to the book, I preferred the book ending. I watched the film at a cinema, greatest performance of Nicholson's career, I think. If you've read the..."

I think the novel is, like many works from the time period, concerned with the loss of male power in society. Race is a very secondary consideration, though the idea of the subjugated Black male ego was not exactly new at the time. I don't think Kesey wanted to say anything in particular about blacks though, other than showing how a subjugated male outlets aggression by participating in socially sanctioned violence on those considered lesser or marginal. That, imo, trumps any disucssion of race in particular.


Valerie The characters were so well cast in the movie. But the book offered more in story.


Steve TheDenizen wrote: "Nicholson is a good actor, but he was a terrible casting choice for Randle McMurphy. Jack is physically nothing like the character described by Kesey. Kesey himself disliked the film and had want..."

I love Hackman, and he probably would been great, but at the same time it's hard for me to imagine anyone but Jack in the role, even having rea the book.


Matthew I watched a documentary about Kesey recently, and he said that he was unhappy with the film. The film has McMurphy as the narrator, whereas the book has the chief. The main problem he identified was that Nurse Ratchett was not supposed to be the villain of the story. The entire system itself was the antagonist, and Nurse Ratchett was merely a part of that system, thus her name. Those were his two major issues.

Personally, I enjoyed both versions, although Kesey's complaints make sense.


Jason Lilly Not to change the subject, but Anthony Burgess said the same thing about the movie version of A Clockwork Orange. He was unhappy with a lot of Kubric's choices in the film.


Matthew Jason wrote: "Not to change the subject, but Anthony Burgess said the same thing about the movie version of A Clockwork Orange. He was unhappy with a lot of Kubric's choices in the film."

I also read that Burgess wishes he weren't remembered primarily for A Clockwork Orange, but thus is the nature of things.


Steve Well Kubric had his own vision, as was his want, a created a classic film.


Soleil Both were good, but the book was able to get more in depth and show more perspective, which i like more.


Walter I couldn't even finish the movie, as I didn't like the direction it was heading.


Shane I think both are great in their own right. The film stands on it's own as a true classic movie, but for me the book was far superior, it seemed to me that the movie only portrayed a section (although a large one) of the book.


message 31: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy Espersen Will wrote: "It's the vivid descriptions from Chief's point of view that make the book better than the film.

Perfect example: "Out along the dim six-o'clock street, I saw leafless trees standing, striking the ..."


I totally agree!

I read the book years after watching the movie, and had I read the book first, I would have been tremendously disappointed with the movie. As it is, I enjoyed both - though the book most.


message 32: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob The thing I love about the book is the unreliable narrator. The whole thing is being told from the point of view of a mental patient. So you have to wonder if any of this really happened or if it was all in his mind. The movie doesn't have that point of view, it is just presented like it happened. I loved the book. the movie was ok.


message 33: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy Espersen Yes, he is a patient - but is he mental?? ;-)


message 34: by Jess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jess I think the book was much better than the movie. I believe you lose a lot from not having the movie in Chief's POV. The audience really doesn't get the sense of who Chief is and his relationship with McMurphy through the book. It's Chief's altered perspective that really gives the book an edge that the movie was missing.


Steve Jess wrote: "I think the book was much better than the movie. I believe you lose a lot from not having the movie in Chief's POV. The audience really doesn't get the sense of who Chief is and his relationship ..."

True


message 36: by Jessica (last edited Jun 01, 2012 07:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jessica C. I loved loved loved the novel. Kesey breathed life into a taboo subject, and not only that he also ripped the subject open, as if for research purposes (surgery if you will, to complete metaphor)to help society gauge the true hellish and barbaric unscientific methods in the psychology realm. Patients back then housed in the institutions had no rights, and psychiatrists scant knowledge of medicines and the proper way to administer electro-shock therapy (movie very effective at showing this)in addition to still performing labotomys on the most "unruly" patients (define unruly)made for a scary reality that Kesey delivered with expertise. Kesey's characters epitomized the true mood found in asylum's--a funny and engrossing unpredicability that lead into a desperate and equally engrossing unbelievability. In the end the Indian (the"mute"who stood to gain nothing as his heritage the white man assualted every day.)never had a chance at freedom). Yet, when it counted the most he not only served as a freedom fighter, but he also left that Institution with nothing to stop him and anywhere to go. I watched the movie too. But as you can read, the book left a dent in my literary gray matter. Movie great (Good old Jack)book so worth it more.


message 37: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon Scott A book is a book and a movie is a movie. Can't interchange them. I love the movie because of the acting. Truly, every actor in the film is fantastic. They have fleshed out the characters and made them unique to their particular talents. But as film goes, this movies is pretty standard stuff, no innovations in editing or filming, no distinctive auteurism just stone cold phenomenal acting and a riveting story. After watching it for the first dozen times or so I thought Jack Nicholson was a freakin' god. His Mac was my muse for rebellion and freedom for many a year after.
When I first attempted to read the book, I was too young to appreciate it fully and the Chief's first person narrative was a tad bit too hallucinogenic for my young mind, but I gave it a few years of experimentation and growth and returned to Kesey's work. I hit pay dirt when I bought a copy of the the Viking Library edition which included criticism with the text. I have chewed that beast so many times the cover is worn and battered, the spine is barely hanging in there.
Kesey's prose is the stuff of reading magic. He spins so many fantastical elements into his manner of composition I am transformed by its charm and originality.
So I have to give it to the book. The movie is film greatness, truly. Long live Nicholson's MacMurphy. No one could give a cold stare like Louise Fletcher. But the book is magic, lightning caught in a bottle. The prose is so deliciously fresh and surprising. Thank you Ken Kesey for the gift.


Leigh I very much agree, Jon. I read the book at a relatively young age and was beyond entranced by the prose. The movie is good, but in my mind, it has NOTHING on the book. I understand intellectually why they didn't use Chief as a narrator, but I couldn't help thinking that the movie lacked the magic of the book. Good movie. Great movie. But I can't really compare the two because the book will ALWAYS win for me.


message 39: by Elle (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elle Well, at first I am from the same country as Milos Forman is, so this is one reason why I like this film. No, I´m kidding, its not the main reason but I must say Im proud that we share same citizenship.
I read book and I watched film. And I can´t compare it. For me, these two pieces are two different things and I like them both.


Jamie Schoffman If you haven't read this book yet, go out and buy a copy now. This is an amazingly powerful work. I definitely enjoyed the movie, and I think that they did a great job remaining true to the book. Kesey is a wonderful writer, and this book shows why.


message 41: by A.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.J. Knauss Definitely read the book first. Certain actors (and I am a big Nicholson fan) so embody a character that for me it is impossible to then read the book without seeing/hearing the actor in that part.


message 42: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat I had different interpretations of the story when I read the book and when I watched the movie - both of which are good and unexpected. I think it's really wonderful to realize something like that. Wouldn't have either any other way.


message 43: by Cait (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cait The book is my favorite book, and the movie is my favorite movie. Though some things about the movie are different, it is still phenomenal on both ends. Milos Forman did an excellent job directing, Kesey is an excellent writer and is one of my favorites (his only downfall is that he is sort of a chauvinist). I think it is interesting that there is experience with psychiatric care in both the film and the novel. Kesey worked in Oregon State Hospital before he got the idea to write this book, and he was actually part of a study at Stanford that paid him $25 dollars a day to be a government guinea pig...he was given LSD and they did experiments to see how it affected his brain. The tape recordings of his acid trips are in the movie "Magic Trip". In terms of the film, if you recall the scene where McMurphy receives EST, it is said that Jack Nicholson watched four people receive the actual treatment in a real hospital before he did this scene, so that he knew how to contort his face and act as if the whole thing was real. This, along with the scene when Bromden talks to him for the first time, was one of my favorite scenes in the movie, because it is raw and real and just about enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone watching.


message 44: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Palmer I didn't like the film too much but I blame the book for that, I'm sure if I'd have seen the film without previously having read the book I would have really enjoyed it but I couldn't stop comparing it to the book and the two are very seperate works.


message 45: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Peters Well, if you think about it, the Film is considered to be in the top ten or twenty of almost every list of all time great movies. The book is great, but I think It would barely crack the list of the top fifty works of twentieth century fiction


message 46: by Cait (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cait James wrote: "I liked the film's changed point of view. A movie can't be narrated or seen through one character's mind in the same way as a novel. And it gave us one of my favorite scenes, the one where McMurp..."

This was my favorite part in the movie too, it made me SO happy. I replay it at least five times and squeal with joy every time I watch it


message 47: by Cait (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cait Patricia wrote: "Ken Kesey was upset that Bromden did not narrate in the movie, and I agree with him. It would have changed the movie a lot to have him narrating, but the perspective shift really changes things. ..."

I read in an article somewhere that before performing that scene, Jack Nicholson watched real EST patients undergo shock treatment, so he could get a feel for the reality of the procedure and get it just right. It worked!


William I am jumping in here kind of late and haven't read all the posts up to this point, but has anyone ever seen the play on stage? By restricting the novel to a single set, the play captures the sense of claustrophobia on the mental ward very effectively and the immediacy of the action makes one feel part of the events.


message 49: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV I had no idea it was even made into a play, but that doesn't surprise me. I'll keep an eye out for it.


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