There is nothing more brilliant than Jack Nicholson going full-blown baloney and throwing a fit.
“Hold the Chicken”,
What’s happening in the scene is more than just an altercation between two characters arguing over toast.
Either one refusing to give in.
What is meaningful to someone like me, an absolute full-blown lunatic, is that it captures the lack of communication existing within insanity quite perfectly.
Being a Manic-Depressive is largely composed of throwing a fit over what appears to be, on the surface, nothing much of substance; hence the question remains, “Why make such a big deal over nothing?”.
As such either individual feels, they just simply cannot make sense of putting the pieces back together.
Jack Nicholson is the epitome of what captures insanity quite perfectly.
It’s ridiculous exaggerated examples that often get the message across, not the subtle artistic ones; even though we do love giving Oscars out to them.
I’m not saying Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a great movie, it’s just a horrible example of romanticising mental-health.
There’s nothing realistic about a love story revolving around two people exchanging their prescriptions to make a sex puddle as she convinces him into dancing for him.
Whilst movies such as “Awakenings” and “Good Will Hunting” do a decent job of mixing together masterful brilliance of story-telling with an outstanding performance, of course the common denominator being the great Robin Williams.
Speaking of Robin Williams, a presentation of a dramatic example of visualising the issue of Mental-Health which absolutely nailed it was his performance in the “The Fisher King” directed by the surrealist Monty Python alumni, Terry Gilliam.
Point being, where major Hollywood fails to capture the concept of Mental-Health is often exactly the opposite of what should be presented on screen.
The Absurdity, The Over-Dramatisation, The Surrealism, The sheer feeling of disgust is the absolute reality.
It’s not a warm hug or a dance routine which encapsulates the missing pieces of a damaged soul.
The dramatisation is how the message seeps through, because if we wanted reality — a documentary would do it a better service.
Nobody really want to visit a psychiatric facility, because most ‘normal’ people would be absolutely terrified of what they might encounter.
Surrealism in essence, has the ability to elevate the issues surrounding mental-health to further invoke the sense of stigma around it; forcing the audience to experience the same discomfort patients do.
It’s not the tears shed during the cinema that make the difference, in fact it’s the horror and the unshakeable cringe-worthy feeling it leaves the audience with.
One which we often shy away from, one which we often disregard, one which might even force audience to leave during the viewing because it’s unbearable.
One which isn’t viewer friendly and probably won’t sell tickets either.
Because Hollywood loved romanticising Mental-Health, and the reliance of absolute insanity doesn’t do well with viewers — it just isn’t popular.
Much like the topic of Mental-Health, we all are curious about it, we all think we understand it; but rarely do people come close to actually willing to experience and dealing with it first-hand.
We’d rather watch from a distance, a clarified and romanticised view presented for us from a director who believe they understand Mental-Health issues and portray them as such.
Whilst other directors find a more eloquent way to work a manic-depressive mental state into a practical story line where it could be relatable.
Don’t believe me — let’s compare the difference,
Whilst the above scene is brilliant in the sense that well it encapsulates great rock n’ roll music playing in the background as a belligerent Bradley Cooper searches for his ‘Wedding Tapes’ in the middle of the night. He then gets into a sort-of wrestling match / brawl with his parents, and the cops shows up.
It’s a great scene, no doubt. But it’s a crappy and unrealistic encapsulation of what being a manic-depressive feels like. It lacks the right mentality, the mood, even the right dialogue for it.
To have the police-man show up as Bradley Cooper’s character attempts to pull his act together; the scene falls empty and feels like a blatant insult to people that do deal with mental-illness, and does little to absolutely nothing to expose the illness itself.
Other than the fact that the individual suffering from the condition may occasionally throw a fit over nothing of significance.
Now let’s look at this particular scene in Michael Clayton.
It’s portrayal of vulnerability, a sense of remorse and paranoia, the constant lack of eye contact and unusual eye movement, the shifting subjects, the incomplete sentences, are brilliant and subtle incorporations that Tom Wilkinson brings to the character portrayal of a manic-depressive going through a break-down.
He offers George Clooney’s character a piece of bread, childishly hoping that it would make up for his past antics; as Tom Wilkinson’s character is confronted for stripping naked in the middle of a meeting.
The vulnerability and the dialogue itself is enough to capture the essence of the functionality of an individual going through a mental break-down; in a state of shock as they attempt to come to terms with what’s actually going on around them, whilst they feel truly exposed in the middle of an open street.
There’s no rock n’ roll music playing in the background, there’s no fast cuts, there’s no throwing or brawling — it’s just a simple well-worded heated exchange of dialogue.
An argumentative structure that delivers a much more profound and complete sense of the illness when compared to the one portrayed in the example cited earlier.
Pay real close attention to detail at the 2:50 minute mark, as Tom Wilkinson’s facial expression shifts into seriousness rather than anger, his posture improves, his tone evolved into being much more professional and eloquent, his sentences build up to a stronger foundation, he become much more confident and coherent, in a matter of second — the character makes the switch from being belligerent to a well-spoken lawyer, completely able to gather his thoughts when it comes to his profession and explain it in a manner that delivers the counterpunch to his previous ramblings.
A sudden switch, is what marks the perfection of capturing the essence of mental-illness.
Less Hollywood and glamorised, but rather more in depth and rather haunting — unsettling even.
Shock-value has a deeper place in the portrayal of mental-illness rather than trickery of the imagination employed by visuals, it’s scene such as the one portrayed a young and very talented Tom Hardy against his counterpart Benedict Cumberbatch, playing an author writing a biography of Tom Hardy’s character “Stuart”.
It is in this scene that we see a brutal portrayal of a severe breakdown suffered by a manic-depressive.
The scene is unruly, unsettling, sympathetic, thought provoking, absolutely heart-breaking, and gut-wrenching all in one.
A portrayal of a far too broken character, one without remorse and one without a catharsis to be reached.
Hence, bringing us to why One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a brilliant portray of Mental-Health and still stands the test of time as the most accurate film regarding psychiatric patients.
It portrays multiple characters, going about their lives — unable to come to terms with their sense of reality.
Aware of their surrounding but also completely detached from them.
Jack Nicholson becomes the audience, he portrays the visual of the outsider; hoping to understand exactly what-in-the-world is wrong with these people, whom he soon realises aren’t that bad after all.
What is so revealing and sadly the absolute truth about it is also why the film is such a success; the fact that there is hardly ever a happy ending to it.
There are moments, and that’s all they are — simply memories.
Simple accomplishments, such as a reward for good behaviour to be able to watch the television.
They’re all kept of a close leash, so as not to run too far away.
So as not escape,
into the unknown,
into possible further misery,
out of the cuckoo’s nest.