Book vs. Movie: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Hi everyone! I’m having a pretty good week and I hope you all are too! T.G.I.F!!! Back again with another book vs. movie post. This time I’ll be writing about “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey vs. the film version directed by Milos Forman. Let’s begin….



The story of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” is set in a psychiatric hospital and is told in first person through one of its patients named “Chief”, who is a tall and silent Native American. “Chief” is the eyes and voice of the entire story and we witness the events through him. He mainly focuses on Randle McMurphy, a man who fakes insanity in order not to go to prison, as well as Miss Ratched. Miss Ratched, is the strict nurse that rules the ward with a domineering presence. McMurphy slowly starts to influence the patients around him little by little and it soon becomes a constant struggle between the two.

I love this book! I read it in high school and now it’s definitely one of my favorites! I really enjoyed the various different characters and what each of their own personalities brought to the story. McMurphy is a pretty awesome character and I love the way he interacts with Miss Ratched and the other patients. He has a class clown personality, but he is very smart and independent. He sees through Miss Ratched’s conniving lies and constantly tries to break free from her tight reigns. Miss Ratched is a very powerful character. She is truly terrifying in many ways and quite the force to reckoned with. I also like “Chief” of course.  He pretends to be “deaf”, but isn’t. He is all-knowing and observant of everything that is going around him. He sees, listens, and understands things more than anyone else in the entire novel.



The film version for this classic novel is fantastic. It did a good job grasping the story line and portraying the characters strongly; something which a lot of book movies tend to miss. The film version was released in 1975 and stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy (how can you not like Jack?!) and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched. The film won all five major Academy Awards and its rendered a “movie classic”/must-watch. The movie runs a little over two hours and manages to get a lot of the key moments and strong points of the story in the time given.


The only bad thing I have to say about this movie is that is it told in third person rather than the first-person person perspective of “Chief” in the original novel. I felt like it took away from the story and “Chief” became a minor character who was just kinda “there”. In the novel he had a bigger role, and a more commanding presence in the way the story was told.


Onto the positives…. Nicholson as McMurphy and Fletcher and Nurse Ratched were perfect casting choices. They were the stars of the movies and I feel that they executed these roles amazingly. Their acting was on top as well as the other main patients that were featured in the novel. The scenes when Ratched and McMurphy butt heads are the best and the most intense parts of the movie!

Final verdict:

Kesey’s novel was written fantastically and his characters are wonderful and re-memorable. And the movie has great acting/actors and has good filming techniques, strong symbolism, and portrayal of the novel’s original story. My final verdict is that the book and movie are both wonderful in their own way.

Book version + movie version = equally good.

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