One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Book vs Film

Plot and Conflicts

The plot of both stories are essentially the same. A mental ward is run by a strict, disdainful Nurse, Nurse Ratched, whose power of the patients is challenged by an unruly transfer from a work farm, McMurphy. McMurphy's uncomplaisant and confident persona encourages the other patients to think for themselves.
The basis for both stories is the power struggle of McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. A difference is that in the book an emphasis is placed on the development of the other patients while in the movie it is McMurphy's growth and story line that is focused on.

Point Of View

A significant change is the view in which the story is told. In the book "Chief" Bromden is the narrator of the story while in the movie the story is told by focusing on McMurphy. This takes away the prominence of Bromden in the story. It takes away his background and the significance of his development. In the book, Bromden, and therefore the reader, is able to look at what is happening critically. He shows McMurphy's faults along with his good influence. By taking away Bromden as the narrator, there is actually less insight to even McMurphy's significance. McMurphy, in the book, is what develops the characters and makes Bromden a sort of hero, while McMurphy's selfishness and faults are still illustrated. In the movie, McMurphy's fault are not focused on and instead take away characterization and his realistic personality, adding superficiality to the story. McMurphy is depicted as more of a hero as opposed to a person with faults who finds a way, though he struggles, to make a difference in the lives of the patients. The character development of the rest of the patients are only lightly touched on and implied which takes a way from the meaning of the work.


"The drain at their feet kept choking short little gulps of air and soapy water"

Missing Scene

In the movie, Cheswick does not die. McMurphy doesn't let Cheswick down and instead stands up for him. Which ends up making McMurphy, Bromden, and Cheswick get sent to the disturbed ward.
In the book, McMurphy defends George, who does not want medication in the showers. This scene is a turning point in the book. As they are all naked and vulnerable, McMurphy steps up and helps. He tries to fight of the wardens. This is when Bromden also steps up and helps out a huge step in his character development.
I believe this scene is missing from the movie because it does not fit the main point the movie tries to show. The movie is all about McMurphy so it wouldn't organically fit that goal. The movie is condensed, leaving out many parts and implying a lot of actions. These changes though are not only for time purposes but because they chose to focus on a different aspect of the movie as opposed to the book.

My Favorite Still Frame:


The movie and book are both widely acclaimed. As an individual piece of work, I believe the movie is good but as a medium for the story in the book it does not do it justice. Ken Kesey, the author of the book, did not like the movie's portrayal of the story and I have to full heartdely agree. It tells a different story due to its emphasis on the wrong things.