“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is an American film that is based on a novel of the same name. Milos Forman directed this film in the year 1975 while the novel was written in the year 1962 by Ken Kesey. It is an established fact that when a film is based on any novel, certain changes are made while transforming the book into the film. These changes are made according to making of various scenes and story of the movie. This paper intends to discuss how the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is different from the novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
There are some basic concept related differences between the novel and the movie. Unlike the novel, the film succeeds in retaining ideas of natural against institutional, a dispute of original creativity versus subjective and dictatorial authority. The film also appears retaining redeeming characteristics of uncontrolled sexuality, as well as, the haphazard feminist ascendency. A novel and the movie cannot be the same and there are a number of necessary changes that are to be inserted while making a film that is based on a novel. The abovementioned movie is not an exception and there are more than a few differences between the novel and the movie.
There is a huge difference in the viewpoint of novel and the movie. Bromden narrates the story of the novel while there is no narrator in the movie. It is also a bit impractical, as well as difficult, to narrate the story of the movie through a narrator. Such changes have been made in order to make a motion movie from a novel. A number of qualities that Bromden used to possess in the novel are missing in the film. Bromden used to be very talkative and psychotic in the novel when he says that “They don't bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I'm nearby because they think I'm deaf and dumb. Everybody thinks so. I'm cagey enough to fool them that much. all these years” (Kesey, p.3). However, Bromden was slurring in the movie. The narrator, Chief appears to be a hero of the novel while discarding any narrator in the movie, narrator’ character has been consigned to McMurphy.
One major difference appears in terms of portrayal of characters in the movie as well as in the novel. Character of Ratched, the nurse, is portrayed as an antagonist in the novel since the beginning. She is portrayed as a character of dominant behavior. The way, she controls the ward and people residing there, does not resemble with her personality. The nurse is presented as someone whose anger is behind the mask that she wears all the time. Kesey describes her as “smiling and calm and cold” (Kesey, p.5). Kesey further describes her as “an expensive baby doll [with], skin like flesh colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby blue eyes.” (Kesey p.5). Now it is not possible in the movie to make the nurse appear as someone who has eyes like baby doll. The nurse is portrayed very differently in the movie as compared to her portrayal in the novel.
A number of events from novel have been dropped from the movie. Such changes were introduced in order to transform the text into a motion movie. Fog is one prominent feature in the novel but like various other things, it is not available in the movie. The novel consisted various painful and sweltering emotions while they are presented in the movie in much-controlled manner and movie becomes more pleasant than the text.
There are a number of changes while making the film on the novel but theme of novel and movie is same. Some basic themes that appear both in the film and in the novel are: sexual oppression against sexual liberty, freedom versus confinement, self-interest versus altruism, independence versus compliance, mind against matter, fear versus understanding and madness. There are certain technical changes that are necessary in order to transform text into motion. The novel, as well as, the movie succeeded in entertaining audiences and acquired huge acclamations from people (Kesey).
The ending of the novel and movie is completely different. At the end of the novel, chief watches a dog chasing geese towards a road and readers imagine that the dog may come confront any vehicle and machine will score a win. This ending scene thrills novel readers. However in ending scene of the movie, chief is filmed escaping from the hospital. Here audiences get an impression that the chief is running out of happiness and liberty.
Having observed an overview and succinct analysis of the abovementioned subject, the paper concludes that there are a number of changes between Forman’s movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. The themes of both the works are almost similar, but various necessary changes have been made in order to make a motion film. While making a movie on the story of a successful novel is not an easy task, but in this case the task has been completed successfully.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. New York: Penguine Group Inc, 2007.