The movie was one of the best I’ve seen. It was simple and ultimately heart wrenching. For some odd reason, I’d seen the black and white cover and stayed away. Black and whites have mostly not been that interesting to me, other than Casablanca, but much to my surprise, the movie was actually in color. And what a movie. Nicholson is near perfect and the other accomplished actors play it near perfect. But it is not the book.
After seeing the ending, I went to Amazon and purchased the book. The fact that the book was narrated by the large, supposedly mute Indian character was reason enough to pick it up. I just had a feeling that the book would be better than the movie.
It may not be better, but it is on equal footing.
Written by Ken Kesey, it is a the story of Randle McMurphy, a put upon delinquent who finds himself in a mental institution filled with acute and chronic patients. Some are undeniably marbles, but most are actually psychologically fragile persons who happen to be incapable of overcoming their issues such that they can function in the normal world. Strangely enough, many are there within their own volition.
The ward is ran by a silent tyrant, the malicious Big Nurse, who holds all consuming mental dominion through her manipulative rules and demeaning stance of management. That is, until one Randle Patrick McMurphy saunters in dealing blackjack and bucking almost every semblance of normalcy harbored there. Naturally, the two are polar opposites, and that same effect is taken upon the patients.
I won’t detail the story further, as it should really be read. The story is timeless and details society and outcasts. People without homes and those with homes taken away from them. It’s a great analogy of how the world works and what’s expected of humans today. Certain tales do not have obvious morals. They do not get on a pedestal, they simply tell the story and let those willing to listen have what they will. The book does this in better detail than the movie (often the case), but it does so in such a way that it will stick with you. See the movie. Read the book. You won’t regret either.