One of my favourite movie scenes of all time (One flew over the cuckoo's nest)
There are so many things about this dynamic scene that makes it rank among my favourite in all the films I have ever viewed. Here the villain of the film Nurse Ratched begins a discussion that is of absolutely no value to any of the patients in the group whatsoever, and it concerns one of the patients, Mr Harding's estranged wife. She initiates a talk whose subject matter has been covered many times, as is clearly evident by the reactions of the other patients. Harding, who is clearly mentally ill, utters some rather vague and completely contradictory phrases which, in his mind, are an expression of his own intelligent and considered opinion when in fact he makes no sense at all. I love how the scene quickly escalates into an argument, with bully-boy tactics from the character Taber and others, the well-meaning but misguided and naive Cheswick who tries to stick up for Harding, the cold and distant gaze of Nurse Ratched (Who watches stony-faced and does nothing to control the patients.) Then, as a kind of vessel of sanity, you have Jack Nicholson who sits and watches curiously this whole scene, going from benign curiosity to being entertained by the drama, at one point making a hilarious mimicking gesture of Harding who is arguing with the rest of the group, particularly Taber. A great scene. A classic. They don't make films like this any more. And if they do, I have yet to see them...
Here is what Harding says during the scene:
Harding's dialogue is fantastic, not because of what it axiomatically reveals in the words themselves, i.e. in the normal sense what it might offer the viewer, such as an interesting or impressive philosophical insight but rather in the subtext of how Harding views himself, and what this says implicitly about his mental illness. Like all good dialogue it is very revealing of Harding's characterisation. He is articulate in the way that he uses some words, even though the context of their usage is nonsense. (For example, what does he mean by 'form' and 'content' ...These words give the impression of being analytical) In my opinion it indicates a man who perhaps at one point was quite intelligent, perhaps even holding a decent job in a decent profession. Now his thinking is completely nonsensical and disorganized which we as viewers assume is brought on by his illness.
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