The choice of the film’s producer not to narrate the plot from Bromden’s point of view has had a significant effect on the story so viewers must build their own interpretation of McMurphy’s behavior.
Many who have previously read the book would find the film easier to comprehend. Bromden’s unreasonable fantasies take center stage in the book, quickly establishing a viewpoint rife with metaphors both realistic and psychosexual that are partly a product of the racially implied fear. For eg, he describes the Big Nurse in machine-like words. At the beginning of the novel, he sees the Nurse coming towards the black boys, and he states, She blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor (Kesey 5). It takes almost two pages for the reality of the situation to sink in, and even so, the reader spends most of the first half of the book trying to translate Bromden dreams into a more sensible story. However, in the film, the scene is barely described losing important details.
The outcome is a narrative in which melodrama regularly seems to break into chaos. On the other hand, the film does not have any narration. The first scene happens outside a mental institution and serves as the setting for the following actions. The viewers see a forest and fields in the early morning, a car that comes up a long road. After several minutes inside the ward, the bossy Nurse Ratched comes in, and the patients begin their morning routine. Moreover, there is a cut back to show the car pulling up outside a building where a man in a leather jacket and a stocking cap gets out of the back. Forman in the film does not use hallucinations and visions which Bromden thinks are working to turn everybody into robots that are programmed easily. In the film, the events unfold realistically making the role of Bromden as a narrator irrelevant. Consequently, the viewers understand the film without any explanation.
Throughout the novel, the readers get the information from Chief about what he thinks of McMurphy. At one instance, Bromden starts to understand that McMurphy is not only a tough criminal filled with disobedience and adventures, but he is someone different from anyone he has encountered before. He narrates to the readers, I was seeing him different from when he came in (Kesey 56). From these words, the reader can understand that even if it takes him some time, he starts to understand that McMurphy personality is more than what he sees of him.
In the film, on the other hand, it does not appear like Bromden change of attitude towards McMurphy is based on something significant. In one of film scenes, which is different from the one in the book, McMurphy abuses Bromden by making fun of him as he is an Indian. Afterward, when McMurphy takes a bus to take a tour with fellow inmates, Bromden smiles as he is happy seeing McMurphy getting away with the stunt. Based on this scene, the viewers may not understand how Bromden has developed from the feeling of hate for McMurphy to being pleased with his accomplishment. It is the lack of narration in the film that contributes to unclarity of such scenes. It is obvious that the absence of the narrator in the film leaves the story without details making it different from the actual novel.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Berkley, 1963.
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