One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and audience perceptions

Interesting article by Steven Kates at Quadrant Online on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The author points out that audiences invariably see R. P. McMurphy as the hero and Nurse Ratched as the villain whereas it’s more accurate to see McMurphy as a completely destructive anti-social force.

Kates wrote the article after seeing a stage production but it’s the 1975 film version that has become a cultural icon and his observations apply equally to both the movie and Ken Kesey’s original novel.

The rise of the anti-hero was one of the first serious signs western civilisation was beginning to fall apart. It was also one of the first manifestations of the culture wars in popular culture.

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