Milos Foreman’s film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was developed from Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The screenwriters of the film are Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Chief and McMurphy develop a close relationship during the escape scene, while in the ward during and after the craze with Cheswick wanting the cigarettes, and the final scene.
First of all, Chief is a colossal, Native American patient who pretends to be deaf, and is in the mental ward where McMurphy is sent. McMurphy is a Korean War POW who has been sent to the ward because he pretended to be crazy to serve the rest of his prison sentence in the ward and not prison. In the scene where McMurphy escapes there is initially a close up shot of McMurphy through the ward gate showing that he is trapped in the ward. Then there is a shot from medium range showing McMurphy trying to escape while climbing on Chief’s shoulders to get to the top of the gate to escape. Following that there is a tilt shot where McMurphy is being tracked as he climbs the fence and jumps to the ground from the tree just outside the gate. McMurphy then decides to stay and take those out who don’t have to stay on the ward grounds all day long.
Secondly, Chief and McMurphy’s relationship is further developed in the scene when Cheswick asks Nurse Ratched what has happened to their cigarettes. This scene starts with a meeting amongst all the patients and Cheswick keeps interrupting Nurse Ratched, while going crazy and wanting to know what happened to their cigarettes. There are many reverse shots while Nurse Ratched and Cheswick are discussing what happened to the patients’ cigarettes. The scene finally starts getting chaotic when Harding’s cigarette is being thrown around amongst all the patients in the ward and ending up in Max Taber’s pant leg. The cigarette ends up burning a hole through his pant leg and burning his ankle. While all this madness is going on, McMurphy punches and shatters the nursing station window and gets Cheswick his cigarettes to get him to stop yelling. McMurphy then attacks Washington and is temporarily restraining McMurphy until Chief steps in and protects McMurphy. After the guards restrain Chief and McMurphy, Chief is brought into another section of the ward where McMurphy is already waiting. McMurphy subsequently offers Chief a piece of gum where Chief responds by saying “Juicy Fruit” (Foreman) revealing to McMurphy, the fact that he is not deaf.
Finally in the closing scene McMurphy is seen being brought back to bed through a point of view shot through the eyes of Chief as well as a reverse shot displaying Chief’s reaction to seeing McMurphy being brought back following McMurphy’s lobotomy. McMurphy was given the lobotomy after his second time escaping the ward, this time however he didn’t take everyone with him. Chief then realizes that McMurphy is a vegetable and cannot go about doing anything anymore. At this point Chief decides to kill McMurphy so he doesn’t have to live following the operation by strangling him by placing a pillow over McMurphy’s face and choking him to death. After Chief murders McMurphy, he goes into the washroom and uproots the marble counter in the room and hurls it into the window, which causes it to shatter and open up so Chief can escape. In the final shot of the film, there is a long shot of Chief running away from the ward. In this shot all you see is Chief’s white pants as he is running into the wilderness. This shot of Chief running into the wilderness is a reversal of roles between McMurphy and Chief. In the opening scene McMurphy is being brought into the ward through a tracking shot where you see a car and the headlights of the car. The white pants of Chief leaving directly resembles the arrival of McMurphy.
In conclusion, McMurphy and Chief develop a strong bond throughout Milos Foreman’s picture One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest through Chief’s aid of helping McMurphy escape, Chief revealing that he is not dumb or deaf to McMurphy, and the slaying of McMurphy. Chief helps McMurphy clear the gate so McMurphy can take the others out fishing for the day. Chief saves McMurphy from further punishment from the guards and speaks to McMurphy. Also, Chief murders McMurphy so he no longer has to suffer and escapes from the ward.