Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Ordinary People

Os to choose from today included The Outsiders, which is on the 9th grade curriculum in Florida schools so I know most students have seen the film, Office Space, which has become a staple (get it?) in American society that I’m going to skip going on about it again), and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is an incredible film that students should see, especially after reading The Odyssey. My main focus was, again, on the two that are very powerful and special films that young audiences may or may not have (well, they more than likely haven’t) seen before.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Now, I remember my parents watching this years ago when I was too young to understand the magnitude of it. Since it came out in 1975, I had to make sure I did watch it as an adult to appreciate the spectacular performance that only Jack Nicholson can give. I always felt like this movie was about breaking points and how someone of power can dismiss people’s needs. Popular culture has given Nurse Ratched a special place (what an awesome, evil nurse name, right?) and even if people haven’t seen the film, they get the reference, and remember how Jack Nicholson said her name. While McMurphy is a criminal and thinks he can get out of a prison sentence by opting to go to a mental institution. This means that a sane person who isn’t in charge, can see how bizarre and wrong things are in this place that the patients accept. The tension between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched grow more and more volatile and by the end, McMurphy, who thought he could outsmart everyone, ended up being treated the worst and given a medical procedure that only someone with severe mental illness would have been given at the time. The ending is heart-breaking and triumphant at the same time. It’s definitely one that needs to be seen at least once in your lifetime.

McMurphy: I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.

Ordinary People: This is one of my all-time favourite movies and I watch it every time it’s on TV. It came out in 1980 so it still has that 70s vibe to it that is one of the best things ever. The story is also something I love to –the basic story of a family who has to deal with stress. The stress that is on this family is the tragic death of the oldest son, Buck. The film is in the point of view of the younger brother, Conrad, who ends up so depressed by the boating accident that he tries to take his own life as well. The film starts after these two big events and while the kind, supportive father, played by Donald Sutherland is doing the best he can, and the bitter, non-compassionate mother, played by Mary Tyler Moore cannot get past what has happened to Buck or how Conrad reacts to it. With the help of psychiatrist, played by Judd Hirsch and his girlfriend, played by the lovely Elizabeth McGovern, 30 years before she was Cora Crawley, Conrad begins to figure out why he is taking the death of his brother so hard. It’s a great story, very sad, but rich in the human experience that it’s so worth people knowing about and watching.

Conrad "Con" Jarrett: You woulda visited Buck if he was in the hospital.
Beth Jarrett: Buck would have never been in the hospital!


  1. I haven't seen either of these. New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


    1. Thanks so much for visiting. I'll be stopping by your blog too.

  2. Ordinary People is one of my favorite movies too. My whole family loves it actually. It gets me every time and I can never get through it without crying.

    1. I understand what you mean. It's so sad but a great film.