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    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay

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    How do directors of ‘Rain Man’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ shows and convey powerful emotions? In both films, ‘Rain Man’ directed by Barry Levinson, and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Milos Forman, the audience can see very powerful, dramatic emotions. The directors show and convey the emotions using effective media devices, such as use of diagetic and non-diagetic sound, lighting, different camera shots. They also use symbolism- for example water- to make a greater impression on the audience, show the emotions of each of the main characters.

    Use of the symbolism states the directors’ awareness of a viewer. Both directors effectively use a considerable variety of sounds, diagetic and non-diagetic, to create the atmosphere and powerful emotions. ‘Rain Man’ by Barry Levinson , includes more diagetic sounds than ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ . In ‘Rain Man’ a seminal scene is the bathroom scene. Director uses there diagetic sounds: Raymond brushing his teeth, and the sound of water. Instead of non-diagetic sounds like, for example song or melody, Charlie and Raymond are singing a song.

    It was the director’s choice that they sing out of tune as it makes the scene more tender and intimate. Barry Levinson does not use a non-diagetic sound, so the audience can concentrate on dialogue and pauses. Music would distract the viewers during this essential scene and draw their attention away from the interaction between the characters. In ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, however, the director uses a non-diagetic sounds to show the characters’ emotions. Music, when Chef escapes is a tribal Indian music.

    The music, combined with other media techniques, symbolises freedom and independence. What is more, at the beginning of the film, the music is similar to that of the end. This may remind the audience of the beginning; that everything comes back to how it has used to be. It makes the viewers think back to the times when R. M. Mac Murphy, Chief and others were free and led a happy life away from the hospital. The director set the scene of Mac’s death using a cinematic devices, such as the sounds, to make a great impression on the viewers.

    On the very beginning of the scene, when nurses bring and lay Mac on the bed, the audience can hear only footsteps, the sound of closing doors; then movement as Chief’s dressing up. Apart from those quiet sounds, there is absolute silence in the background. When Chief is talking to Mac, his hushed voice creates a more tender, gentle atmosphere. When Chief realizes what they have done to Mac, he puts Mac down, and quiet music can be heard. The music starts after very dramatic dialogue or rather a monologue from the Chief.

    The choice of movement when music starts is a very effective choice of the director. It symbolises letting the spirit go, freedom. The music’s being played when Chief is strangling Mac; this may also indicate that Chief does not want to hear Mac dying. The directors also use a cinematic device such as lighting, to increase drama in the films. In ‘Rain Man’ lighting is used to show off facial expressions or important objects. In the bathroom scene, unlike in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’; lights are on all the time. Warm light creates a more tender atmosphere.

    However the bathroom is light, a mirror on the wall is obscured, which is an indication that Charlie cannot see Raymond as clearly as he should; it may suggest that although they are brothers, Charlie does not really know or understands Raymond as they spent such a long time away from each other. In ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ main scene, the scene of Mac’s death, lights are off. The audience can see only faces or a white pillow when Chief is strangling Mac. Only their faces are lit up; everything else is in darkness. Only a little bit of light comes from the corridor.

    This creates a more dramatic atmosphere, tension, makes the audience concentrate on Chief’s emotions and shows that Mac is unable to make any sound or move. However, when Chief moves towards the window it’s getting lighter; finally when he breaks the window and is free, in day-light the viewers can see the difference between inside and outside of the hospital. The audience can notice this through the whole film; it’s always darker inside the hospital, and when Mac and the others go out, like for example when they go fishing, the lighting is much brighter.

    This may suggest that the patients were not allowed to have as much day-light as they’d have at liberty. But, chose of symbolism in the main scene of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ was the directors choice to expose the powerful emotions on Chief’s face when he’s killing Mac. Another cinematic device used by Levinson and Forman is effective use of camera shoots. In ‘Rain Man’ the director uses close-ups to show important things like hot water that Raymond is so afraid of, and facial expressions. In the bathroom scene the camera is shaking; the camera also shows Charlie and Raymond from many different angles.

    This device is effectively used to draw the audience’s attention to important moments or feelings of the characters. Milos Forman also used a variety of camera shots to create the same effect as Levinson in ‘Rain Man’. Forman used a wide camera angle shot on the end, as Chief escapes. The viewers can see trees, mountains, far on the horizon. All this symbolises freedom, happiness, hope for the future as the wide angle shows everything so far away and it makes viewers think ahead to the future. Alike in ‘Rain Man’, short camera shots show facial expressions, drawing attention to important objects.

    A very powerful impression is created by a camera shot which shows only a white pillow and the Chief’s hands. Furthermore, right after this close shoot, the director used a wide angle camera shot as the audience can see Mac lying on the bed, his legs kicking the air and the Chief, who is sitting on the Mac’s bed, strangling him. To show the powerful emotions in both films the directors use symbolism of objects which appear in the main scenes. Water is an important symbol in each film. Water which symbolises a re-birth, a new beginning, possibly reminding the viewers of baptism.

    In the title the word ‘Rain’ may also signify water and is also associated with life. Maybe the director, Milos Forman, chose that name to link the character of Raymond- Rain Man with re-birth, new growth, as the character changes through the film. He starts a new life after he met Charlie. Another symbol used by Levinson in the bathroom scene is a mirror. The mirror makes the audience think back; it reflects the past, and as the viewers see Charlie in the mirror it reminds the audience about Raymond’s past.

    Symbolism of water was also used on ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. When Chief lifts water faucet and uses it to break a window, there is a lot of water on the floor and it’s flowing out of the pipes. The audience can see the flowing water which may remind them again about re-birth and the beginning of a new life; in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ it is Chiefs re-birth as he escapes from hospital and starts a new life free again. All the media techniques used by the directors make a great impression on the audience.

    Watching ‘Rain Man’ the audience feel sorry for Raymond, when they see his disability, how Charlie has to help him with very simple activities. The audience feel even greater sympathy as Raymond makes them laugh or when Charlie yells at him. After watching ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and Mac’s death, the audience can be shocked. But as Forman used the cinematic devices such as lighting and non-diagetic sound to show how miserable Mac’s life would be if Chief had not killed him, the audience can also feel sympathy for Chief and viewers may feel happy as he has escaped.

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    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay. (2017, Nov 11). Retrieved from

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