‘Het MoMumentale Kreng. Vijf Visies op One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest en de Macht van de Interpretatie.’

M.J.H. Meijer

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In this article Maaike Meijer argues that not only the film One flew over the cuckoo’s nest (1975), but also its literary pretext and the history of its interpretation serve as valuable objects of analysis. Four distinct interpretations of the film offer diverse readings of its narrative in general, and of nurse Ratched in particular. Depending on the interpretative point of view, nurse Ratched has been read as a figure of repressive, sadistic motherhood; of resistance against the injustices of the psychiatric institution; the film as sexist and racist hatespeech; and as a gender-critical reflection on men’s emancipation. Meijer, however, offers a fifth interpretation – one that focuses on the invisibility of male and institutional violence – in which nurse Ratched is understood as a ‘Momist’ figure on which the blame for such invisible violence is projected. These interpretations invite a further reflection upon the historical reception of the film, which has tended to pass over its confounding and problematic gender dynamics. Could it be that the ubiquity of the sadistic mother figure is so ingrained in the cultural imagination is what makes her so imminently recognisable and effective? If so, ongoing attempts to reinterpret the film and to deconstruct the figure of nurse Ratched remain relevant today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-44
JournalTijdschrift voor Genderstudies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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