One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Analysis

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This paper posits that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has challenged the traditional notions of mental institutions and psychiatric medication - this is exemplified with the filmic elements (cinematography, mise en scene, etcetera). In this paper, we will take a closer analysis on how these aspects have influenced the concept of madness and emasculation vis-à-vis self and institution. The cinematography of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest helped draw the line between reason and unreason. For instance, in the ending scene, Forman used extreme close-ups and different lightning to symbolize the transition from reason and unreason. The chief’s face starts out from being dimly lit and the light is concentrated on the windows, emphasizing that the hospital is a jail-like institution. When Chief attempts to wake McMurphy up, the fill and key light illuminates half of his face and eventually it lights up the entirety of Chief’s face. In comparison, McMurphy’s face is dimly lit after the lobotomy and gets darker when his life ends, showing that the ‘light’ has left him. The change of lighting symbolizes the recovery of Chief and also his final step from unreason (the alternate social norm) to reason, where he is now able to speak and integrate back to the social structure of Western culture. The final shot is also used to connote that the hospital is a cold, dark place and it solidifies the viewer’s negativity towards mental institution. When Chief eventually breaks out, the
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