Sunday, June 30, 2013
Can You Tell?
That I've been watching old movies today?
I remember when this movie came out. Was it an indictment against mental institutions? Was it a dark comedy? Was it a study in character development? Was it a cry against institutionalization of all kinds?
Yes. Yes it was. A lot of character actors found steady work after appearing in Cuckoo's Nest. I'd heard Louise Fletcher, who won an Oscar for Best Actress, had trouble finding roles after this because she was pretty well typecast as the icy control freak tyrant head nurse Mildred Ratched. She had some success playing a similar villian - the religious leader Kai Wynn Adami in Deep Space Nine on television. Of course Jack Nickolson was great in his role as Randle McMurphy.
As twisted as the scene is above, in the context of the movie it makes perfect sense. The Chief wasn't going to leave his buddy Mack to suffer in the post lobotomy condition he was in. He was not going to leave him as a trophy for Nurse Ratched. And, by killing Mack, he was freeing his spirit to escape with the now "big as a house" Indian. He, too, would be free.
I have always found this scene to be inspirational.