Day 19 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

Favorite Movie Based Upon a Book

This category is very close to what could be another category. It would be a similar category but I think the results would be very different. That category would be looking for the best book that has been adapted to a film. Since this is a movie challenge, it is only right for the questions to focus on a film instead of a book. My favorite book that has been turned into a film is the Lord of the Rings, but my favorite film (that happens to be adapted from a novel which I have never read) is One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). It was the first film to sweep the 5 major awards at the Oscars: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay since Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night did it 41 years earlier.

The film is based directly upon Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name. The film asks a profound yet difficult sociological question. What is the proper balance between freedom and order? Randall P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is being transferred to a mental facility for evaluation from the state prison where he is serving his time for statutory rape. This transfer is coming after complaints of aggressive behavior. Once on the ward, McMurphy makes it his goal to upset the status-quo. He butts heads with his head caretaker Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and provokes rebellion among the other patients. This rebellion is at times uplifting and we cheer as we see these patients grow, but at other times it’s destructive especially during the ending of the film. Nurse Ratched is often portrayed as an unflinching power hungry authority figure. But in her own way, she does seem concerned for the well being of her patients.

I don’t want to spoil the ending which will leave you weeping while you grin from ear to ear, because I know that this is a treasure that far too few people have seen. But I can say that both sides of the original question of freedom and order are balanced out. The film inquires about how much individual freedom is necessary, and how much social control is necessary. But it doesn’t give any answers to these questions. On the other hand, George Orwell’s 1984 raises this same issue, but the answer is clear in that classic, whereas here Director Milos Foreman lets us decide for ourselves. It also differs from 1984 in its modern-day setting, as opposed to the future of 1984. This makes the question more timely and realistic as opposed to the more speculation of Orwell’s work. Foreman expects us to exercise our freedom and bring our own assumptions, feelings and thoughts to the film, so that we may interpret it according to our values instead of having another view thrust upon us

As I said before, I have not read Ken Kesey’s acclaimed novel, so I cannot judge the film as based upon the book. In my opinion, it is a fruitless endeavor to compare a film and a book, they are distinct forms of art and have their own advantages and drawbacks. That being said, one way to judge the quality of an older film is to look at some of the supporting cast that Found their fame by using the film as a diving board. This one produced a few, namely Danny Devito and Christopher Lloyd. Do you have a favorite film that is based upon a book or some other form of literature? I’d love to hear your picks or you can comment on One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest if you have seen it. You can leave your comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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