Films: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (New Vic)

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Fortnight Publications Ltd.Films: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (New Vic)Review by: Robert JohnstoneFortnight, No. 129 (Jun. 18, 1976), p. 16Published by: Fortnight Publications Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 24/06/2014 22:47Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact .Fortnight Publications Ltd. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Fortnight. This content downloaded from on Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:47:24 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions at one act festivals are Winners j and Losers, which are not really I one act plays at all, being the g two parts of Brian Friel's Lovers. ] Ulster's newest drama group, i the Posthorn Players, winners of the Belfast Festival, presented Losers. Andy and Hannah are i middle-aged lovers whose at tempts at courtship are frustrat ed by Hannah's bed-ridden . mother. Denis Smyth pointed out that there was a great danger of playing this as farce, while Friel wrote it as a humorous play with sad undertones. The company were inclined to overplay and lapse into domestic comedy. He praised Richard Mills' control and excellent timing. Lilian Levers as the mother was suit ably tyrannical. Slemish Players were the winners, and will represent Northern Ireland at Colwyn Bay on 26 June. Denis Smyth summed up by saying that the evening was an interesting pro gramme which had given him a chance to reassure his feelings towards contemporary drama. Roy Larmour ISFILMSFILMSFILM SFILMSFILMSFILM ^_ ISFILMSFILMSFILM ?M^ JSKILMSKILMSKILM g\ \fl I ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (New Vic) The reviews said that Milos Forman's new film was an allegory. So I expected to find the mental hospital presented as a microcosm of society. We're all mad or have to feign madness to get by, nurses represent authority, and so on. But One Flew Over is more impressively complex and fresher than I'd expected from the reviews. While the socio-political meta phor stands up, there are other, subtler, and perhaps more interesting analogies to be drawn from it. Ken Kesey, upon whose novel the film is loosely based, was one of the heralds of psyche delia. He and his pranksters, equipped with LSD and day-glo, inhabited the magic bus Tom Wolfe chronicled in The Electric :.+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ :.. ..: .. ..:+ s:.+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.. . . ...... ...: Kool-Acid Test. The interest is, not surprisingly therefore, not only in the political undertones but also in the mental tricks we learn to cope with other people and with the personal restric tions they impose. Or perhaps I should say the interest of the screenwriters, since Kesey dis owns the film and is suing Forman and Co. Maybe he regrets his youthful disregard of square things like copyright. When McMurphy (Jack Nic holson) is transferred from a prison farm to the hospital, although he's not even techni cally insane but shamming, he begins to disrupt the placid routine. He conducts a guerilla war against martinette Nurse Ratched and her soul-destroying adherence to discipline. His point fe that "the rules" mean everybody has to be miserable because it would be too much trouble to change for a few. Soon the patients?at least those who can communicate at all, which is exactly half?take him as their champion and rely on him for their enjoyment. His efforts to bring things to life offers them self-respect. They have surrendered that, most being voluntary patients, but gaining confidence from Mc Murphy they begin to ask why they acquiesce. One of the several outstanding achievements of the film is the way Forman makes the loonies interesting and likeable without watering down their lunacy (it's a very funny film), and at the same time presenting Ratched as the dreaded hateful bitch the patients see in counterpoint to the conscientious nurse who tries desperately to control 18 madmen while carefully conceal ing her growing emotional involvement with them as people, not just cases. The acting is superb, but Nicholson ?of course! ? , Will Sampson as Chief Bromden and Louise Fletcher as Ratched are extra special. Forman and his actors studied a real mental hospital, even using actual patients and staff, and the totally credible naturalism shows the benefit. However, I'd just like to note a dissatisfaction. Because the film is so uncompromisingly accurate about the surface of lunatic asylums, the implication of the plot that McMurphy's disruption is beneficial seems even more dubiods in context. And as the hippies, Kesey's heirs, discover ed in the wider society, a good heart and revolutionary spirit are not enough on their own to guarantee any lasting good. The authority of Nurse Ratched is by and large for the patients' bene fit, even more than Jim Callaghan or Gerry Ford think they are acting on our behalf. Or maybe Forman, an exiled Czech, was thinking of the Prague Spring being snuffed out by Russian tanks when he filmed the aftermath of lobotomy. Power is not only tyranny over the few (or the many) however well-intentioned, but also a temptation to arbitrary and unnecessary crime. While I'm on the subject of misleading reviews, and while I have the power of print, I can't resist the temptation to chuck a squib at the Belfast Telegraph cinema critic. When previewing Night Moves (at the Avenue last week) he gave the impression that its co-feature Turkish Delight (directed by Paul Verhoeven) was a run-of-the mill skinflick. Don't see it he counselled. While the title and the posters gave that impression anyone who had actually seen it would have known what an interesting film it really was. Robert Johnstone ICMUSICMUSICMU *\ i ICMUSICMUSICMUnr. f\ V I ICMUSICMUSICMU^gWj) THE FUTURE OF THE ULSTER ORCHESTRA The Arts Council of Northern Ireland issued a statement last week to the effect that they accepted the recommendation of an independent working party's report on the provision of orchestral music in Northern Ire land. The Arts Council now has to see whether the recommen dation can ever become more than merely that. What is advocated in the report is, in its own words, a 'merger of the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra with the Ulster Orchestra under a new independent management with a guaranteed contract of BBC broadcasts (say, 48 with the full orchestra and 48 with a Chamber Orchestra each year) for a long-term period.' Now to some extent we have been here before, and it's hard to be all that sanguine about the prospects of getting any agreement between the various interested bodies. But it might be worth setting out the thinking behind the report's main conclusions, as one of the most important interested bod ies is any potential audience. It must be said that the Report is a thoroughly workmanlike This content downloaded from on Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:47:24 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Contentsp. 16Issue Table of ContentsFortnight, No. 129 (Jun. 18, 1976), pp. 1-20Front MatterIllusions and Solution [p. 2-2]Deadline August [p. 3-3]Housing: Waiting for the Action [pp. 4-5]Negotiated Independence: A Talks Aperitif [p. 5-5]Determined to Talk [p. 6-6]Emigration and Unemployment [pp. 6-7]Ulster's Top Twenty Businessmen [p. 8-8]Directory of Ulster's Top Businessmen [pp. 9-12]The Practising Anarchist [pp. 13, 19]ReviewsBooksReview: untitled [p. 14-14]Review: untitled [p. 14-14]Review: untitled [pp. 14-15]Review: Theatre [pp. 15-16]Review: Films: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (New Vic) [p. 16-16]Review: Music [pp. 16-18]Review: Art [p. 18-18]Letters [p. 18-18]Sidelines [p. 19-19]Ulster Crossword [p. 20-20]