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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest can be found here.
Pleading insanity to get out of labor duties while in prison, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is admitted to a mental hospital where he finds kindred spirits with many of the inpatients, but his rabble-rousing ways get him in serious trouble with Head Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1962 novel by American author Ken Kesey (1935-2001). The novel was adapted for the movie by screenwriters Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. The movie won the 1976 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
It is a line from the book. When Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) receives electroshock therapy, he says a line from a nursery rhyme as part of his pained babble: "...one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo's nest." The full verse is "Wire, briar, limber-lock, Three geese in a flock, One flew east, one flew west, And one flew over the cuckoo's nest." This scene is not in the movie. "Cuckoo" is slang for "insane", so "cuckoo's nest" refers to the asylum.
After receiving a frontal lobotomy, McMurphy is in a catatonic state. Realizing that McMurphy can no longer escape with him, Chief Bromden sets him free from the asylum by suffocating him with a pillow. Bromden then picks up the water fountain that McMurphy tried to throw out the window earlier in the film. Bromden throws the fountain out of the window and escapes from the hospital.
The movie follows the book decently close, however scenes like how McMurphy got the tub room available as a second day room, how the men leave for the fishing trip (along with who goes), and how McMurphy and Chief end up in the Disturbed ward are either omitted or changed completely. The most notable difference is that, in the book, the story is told from the point-of-view of Chief Bromden, not from that of Randle McMurphy.
The scene is very short, and if not paying attention could be a little confusing. The majority of the film is ideally through the view point of McMurphy seeing the facility as being manipulated by Nurse Ratched. The scene takes place after McMurphy tries to choke Nurse Ratched to death and is lobotomized. Before he returns, we see a patient walk back into the room with calming music in the background and Ratched kindly asks him how he is feeling. Three men are also playing cards at a table very intuitively and discussing another doctor as well. This could be a double reverse psychology in which the facility is being run very well, and has been all along before McMurphy even arrived. If so, all of the chaos and disruption was done so by McMurphy who caused an imbalance at the facility. It is a very short scene, but the personality and interaction between the patients and Nurse Ratched are polar opposite from the rest of the film.
It is very doubtful, Nurse Ratched revealed that she was very good friends with Billy's mother and, if he committed suicide, she would have a lot of explaining to do. She said what she said for two reasons: (1) Ratched more than anything desired control and order over the patients; Billy gaining confidence in himself meant that he was going to take steps closer to independence which meant that she would lose control. Ratched intended to crush his spirits and make him completely dependent upon her once again, and (2) It was her way of showing McMurphy that no matter what he did, he was not going to win the power struggle in which the two were engaged. While she did not necessarily intend for Billy to commit suicide, Ratched knew it was very likely that he might attempt. Her actions showed that she was willing to sacrifice Billy's life to satisfy her own personal pride, which made her actions very cruel and evil.
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