The movie, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, which was released in November, 1975, is one of three movies in history that has won the five big Academy Awards (best picture, actor, actress, director, and screenplay). It is considered by many to be the greatest film ever made.
However, there is a significant scar apparent from the film’s outset. This movie could not be made in 2023.
Randle McMurphy, played by the famous actor Jack Nicholson, is depicted as the movie’s hero. He pretends to be insane in order to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital and then quickly becomes the inspirational leader of the mental ward. He even encourages the other patients there to discover their abilities.
All this is wonderful. But McMurphy’s pretense of insanity was to avoid being in jail - in jail for the statutory rape of a 15 year old girl. He brags about this rape with enthusiasm and machismo near the start of the movie while describing the girl’s genitalia.
Don’t get me wrong here. “Cuckoo’s Nest” is a dynamic and moving psychological film that certainly gives insight into a unique universe. We witness close up those who struggle mightily with mental illness. We watch with delight and defeat the intense battle between McMurphy and the passive-aggressive tyrant Nurse Ratched.
But McMurphy, the ‘hero’, raped a 15 year old girl! A young girl traumatized, probably forever, unless she can recover after years of healthy psychological and spiritual therapy.
Thankfully, times have changed. The world no longer tolerates braggadocio about rape. Professional help is here more and more for those who have been traumatized.
McMurphy, like anyone, certainly can do repentance. But, for now, he is no hero.